CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team opened the season in a big way, taking a 9-1 win in six innings against Loyola Chicago in the opening game of the Best Western Marina Grand Invitational at Chapman Field.
The Islanders are now 1-0 on the year after picking up where they left off last year, getting a grand slam from Kacie Smith and a two-run shot by Brittany Tucker to power their way to a run-rule victory. Newcomer Jordan Trujillo pitched a complete game, giving up just one run on four hits while striking out four and walking one.
"I don't know if you can have a better first game of the year," said head coach Jake Schumann. "You come off of a good season offensively and spread 11 hits around the field and didn't make any errors.
"I don't know if you can get a better outcome."
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi scored in the first inning as Hannah Schwarz led off with a walk and moved to second on a stolen base. Sandy Schumann drove in the first run of the season on an RBI-double to score Schwarz and put her team up 1-0, but left three on base to end the inning.
"We had a couple of opportunities early to jump on them," said Schumann. "We brought seven or eight to the plate in the first inning and only scored one run.
"They did a good job pitching and we did a good job putting the ball in play so that's a little frustrating."
The Islanders were able to bring the runners home in the third inning when they added a pair of runs after a Lauren Dodson single to center field was followed by a Tucker homer to straight-away center to make it 3-0 over LUC.
The Ramblers answered with their only run of the game in the top of the fourth when Lauren Arceneaux walked and came around to score on a double by Lauren Moore to make it 3-1.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi answered with four more runs in the bottom half of the inning when Meagan McKinney walked and stole second followed by a Lauren Sanders single to put runners at the corners. Schwarz sacrificed Sanders over to second ahead of a Schumann walk that loaded the bases. That brought Smith to the plate and saw her hit a 0-2 pitch down the left-field line for a grand slam to make it 7-1 in favor of the Islanders.
In the sixth inning, Texas A&M - Corpus Christi was able to end the game when Schumann and Smith hit back-to-back singles to put runners at first and second. Dodson followed with a double to the right-center field wall that scored both runners and put the final score at 9-1 due to the run rule.
Dodson led all batters with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate to go along with two RBI. Smith was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and four RBI while Tucker was 1-for-2 with two RBI. Schumann added two hits and an RBI while Schwarz and Cassie Redman had one hit each.
"I thought we executed pretty well," said Schumann. "The home run ball obviously helped us and that really gives us confidence early on."
Next up for the Islanders will be a pair of games on the second day of the invitational against Cleveland State and UT Arlington. The game against CSU is scheduled for 1 p.m. while the UTA game is set to start at 3 p.m. at Chapman Field.