CONWAY, Ark. - The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team picked up its third-straight Southland Conference series win on Sunday with a 10-1 run-rule victory over Central Arkansas in six innings. They won the second game of the series by a 6-1 final after dropping game one 5-4 to the Bears.
"It's just a good weekend when you take two-of-three," said head coach Jake Schumann. "The first game we had runners on base but didn't capitalize.
"We were able to put it behind us and still come out of it with a pair of wins. That is about all you can ask for when you are on the road."
The Islanders are now 20-6 on the year and, more importantly, 8-1 in the Southland Conference standings. It is the best start to Southland play for the team since joining the conference and is the second-quickest Texas A&M - Corpus Christi team to reach 20 wins, following the 2005 team that started 20-1. UCA is now 10-13 overall and 3-3 in league games.
"Our pitching has answered questions," said Schumann. "Coach Norris has done a great job with the group.
"Pitching has been a big part of us being 20-6 as well as our offense and our fielding. It is a combination of all three things that has us where we are right now."
The pitching once again held Central Arkansas to just one run as Greta Cecchetti pitched 2.1 innings, giving up one run on four hits while walking two and striking out one batter. Vianca Pesina came on in relief and tossed the final 3.2 innings to improve to 8-1 on the season. She allowed just one hit and no runs while striking out two and walking none.
The Bears took the lead early in the game, by scoring one run in the bottom of the first for a 1-0 lead. The deficit would not last as the Islanders scored two runs in the top of the second to take a lead they would hold the rest of the way.
Laura Phillips led things off with a single followed by a Lauren Sanders single to center that put runners on first and second. Meagan McKinney then reached on a fielder's choice as she put down an attempted sacrifice bunt, but the shortstop committed an error on the force out at third with Phillips being safe to load the bases. Hannah Schwarz then singled to center to score Phillips and keep the bases loaded. Caley Jeter then stepped to the plate and hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Sanders from third to give her team a 2-1 lead.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi started the fourth with Sanders singling to left and stole second base. She moved to third when McKinney laid down a sacrifice bunt and came around to score when Schwarz reached on a fielder's choice sacrifice bunt. Schwarz then stole second as well ahead of a Jeter walk and a Kacie Smith single that scored Schwarz and put her team up by a 4-1 score.
The Islanders then exploded for six runs in the sixth inning to put the run-rule into effect. Sanders started the inning off by reaching on an error and advancing to second base. Schwarz singled to the pitcher to move Sanders to third and Stephanie Vead followed with a two-RBI double to left center that brought both runners home to score. Jeter then singled to bring Vead home and advanced to second on a Smith groundout. Lauren Dodson knocked an RBI single through the right side to score Jeter and advanced to second on a Brittany Tucker single. Phillips then stepped to the plate again and hit a 3-1 pitch to left center field for a two-RBI double that finished the scoring and made it a 10-1 final.
"In the six run inning, we put pressure on them," said Schumann. "It was the second time we faced their pitcher (Kelsie Armstrong) and we have a smart, savvy crew.
"They made adjustments and didn't let the pitcher beat them mentally."
Schwarz, Vead, Phillips and Sanders each had two hits on the day while Schwarz, Vead, Jeter and Phillips contributed two RBI apiece. Jeter, Smith, Dodson and Tucker all had one hit in the game while Smith and Dodson picked up one RBI each.
Next up for Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will be a Tuesday doubleheader against No. 25 Houston at Chapman Field. The games are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. with live stats and video available through www.GoIslanders.com.