TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (1-3, 0-0 SLC ) AT No. 13/19 TEXAS (5-0, 0-0 BIG 12)
Wednesday, Feb. 15 • 5 p.m. CST
McCombs Field (1,254) • Austin, Texas
TV: Longhorn Network (Play by Play: Dave Raymond, Analyst: Cat Osterman)
CORPUS CHRISTI – The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will travel to Austin, Texas, to take on No. 13/19 ranked Texas Wednesday, Feb. 15. The Islanders head into the contest with a 1-3 record after opening the season at the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic last weekend.
The Islanders are coming off an impressive 41-19 season a year ago including clinching the Southland Conference regular-season championship. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi returns eight players and four starters from the 2011 team that finished with a stellar 21-9 Southland Conference record.
The squad is led by preseason First Team All-Southland Conference honoree Hannah Schwarz who returns after starting 58-of-59 of the Islanders games last season. She had the highest batting average on the team at .345 and was third in the conference. In the circle, the Islanders return all four pitchers with the addition of freshman Bethany Slick.
Coach Hughes earned her first victory Saturday when the Islanders won a 7-5 come-from-behind victory against North Texas in Houston. The first-year head coach became the Islanders fifth head coach in program history when she was hired on August 19, 2011.
SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS
Wednesday's matchup will be the 19th meeting between the two schools with the Longhorns holding the 17-1 advantage. The Islander's lone victory against Texas came in 2009 when the Islanders won 5-0 in Corpus Christi. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi has faced the Longhorns two out of the three times they have advanced to the postseason.
The Longhorns head into Wednesday's game with a perfect 5-0 record. Texas continues their homestand after hosting the Texas Classic last weekend where they outscored their opponents 60-0 with four run-rule victories.
Karina Scott leads the Longhorns offense with a batting average of .714 and Lexy Bennett is second with a .667 batting average. In the circle, the Longhorns are powered by Blaire Luna, who went 2-0 over the weekend. In 13 innings of work she walked four while striking out 26.
The Islanders were picked to finish second in the Southland Conference, after clinching the regular-season title last season. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi was selected behind defending conference champion Texas State. The Islanders received five first-place votes with 87 points while Texas State received four.
Senior Hannah Schwarz, returns as a First Team selection for the second straight year after starting 58 of the Islanders 59 games last season. Senior Vianca Pesina returns as a Second Team selection after going 12-5 in the circle with a 2.26 ERA last season, which was sixth best in the conference.
The Islanders will play a total of 40 regular-season games, including 13 of which will be against teams who competed in the NCAA Championship last season. The Islanders have already competed against two Top 25 teams (Oklahoma State and Houston) and are scheduled to play against four more this season (No. 9 Baylor, No. 13 Texas, No. 20 La. Lafayette and No. 22 Kentucky).
The Islanders welcome back eight key returners from last season's team and four pitchers. The Islanders are led by 10 seniors. Greta Cecchetti, Vianca Pesina, Jordan Trujillo and Constance Brandenburg all return for the Islanders in the circle. Jamise Jackson, Sandy Schumann and Laura Phillips return to the infield, while seniors Cassie Redman and Hannah Schwarz will lead the Islanders in the outfield. Schwarz, Jackson, Redman and Phillips all started for the Islanders last season.
With the loss of five key players, the Islanders are looking to fill their shoes with 11 freshmen. Infielder Cassie Carroll, shortstop Hayley Galloway and catcher/outfielder Mickayla Heller are three of the top newcomers for the Islanders on defense. Freshman Bethany Slick is looking to join the four returners in the circle. In the Islanders first four games, freshman Cassie Carroll powered the Islanders offense with six hits and two runs while batting .429. Hayley Galloway also chipped in three hits and one run to go with a .250 batting average.
Senior Hannah Schwarz returns to the Islanders after earning First Team selections for the second straight year. She started 58-of-59 of the Islanders games last season while recording the highest batting average on the team at .345 which was good for third in the Southland Conference.
She also had the second most hits with 63 and was third in runs scored with 37 during the season. The outfielder was third on the team with eight stolen bases after going 8-for-15 and had a team-high 176 at-bats as the Islanders primary leadoff hitter during the season.
Schwarz was named to the Capital One Academic All-America team and honored with the Southland Conference Steve McCarty Citizenship Award. This summer, Schwarz made program history with a World Cup of softball appearance with Team Canada. She was also selected to play in the Pam American Games.
IN THE CIRCLE
Greta Cecchetti is one of four pitchers returning. She led the Islanders in the circle last season. Cecchetti started 16 games in the circle while posting a team-best 1.77 ERA and going 8-6. She was second on the team with one save. She threw 106.2 innings while striking out 81 batters. Cecchetti participated in the European Championship with Team Italy.
Joining Cecchetti in the circle are Vianca Pesina, Jordan Trujillo, Constance Brandenburg and freshman Bethany Slick. Pesina was second on the team with a 2.26 ERA and a 12-5 record. Trujillo posted a 17-7 record with a team-best 133 strikeouts in 148 innings thrown. Brandenburg made 16 appearances with two starts during her freshman season. She posted a 4-1 record and a team-high two saves.
In the Houston Hilton Plaza Classic, Pesina led the Islanders with a. 426 ERA in 12.2 innings pitched. The senior walked five while striking out nine.
The Islanders outfield is made up of all seniors with one senior in the infield. Cassie Redman returns to left field for the Islanders, Schwarz in center and lefty Stephanie Vead in right field. Redman started in 45 of the Islanders 49 games last season and posted a team-high eight sacrifice hits. Vead started 22 games while playing in 34 in her first year with the team. She was fourth on the team with a .318 batting average.
Sandy Schumann will lead the Islanders in the infield as the only senior. She started in 34 games and played in a total of 45 games as the Islanders best utility player.
Sophomore Jamise Jackson and junior Meagan McKinney will also add experience in the infield. Jackson is returning after posting a .357 slugging percentage while driving in 16 runs with six doubles. Jackson lifted the Islanders past North Texas on Saturday with first career grand slam. McKinney is back after starting 14 of 31 games as a sophomore while battling through injuries.
Schwarz led the Islanders offense with a .345 batting average. The Islanders will need to fill some holes offensively with the departure of graduated seniors Lauren Sanders and Caley Jeter. Sanders posted a .340 batting average and Jeter was third on the team with a .335 average, including a season-best 38 RBIs. Vead was fourth with catcher Laura Phillips is fifth with a batting average of .270. Phillips posted one home run with 11 runs driven in, including seven doubles. This past weekend, Phillips tallied four hits, one run and one RBI in eight at bats. Alejia Cain also stepped up for the Islanders, posting six hits and two runs with an average of .429.
The Islanders will also have to fill the void of graduated seniors Kacie Smith and Brittany Tucker as well. Tucker tallied nine doubles, six home runs and 37 RBIs. Tucker led the team with seven home runs, nine doubles and 35 RBIs.
The Islanders will return home for a three-game series with Baylor on Friday, Feb. 17, including a double-header on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Friday's game is slated for 1 p.m.