CORPUS CHRISTI – As the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team heads into their final two home games this weekend against McNeese State, it will be the last time seniors Alejia Cain, Greta Cecchetti, Vianca Pesina, Cassie Redman, Sandy Schumann, Hannah Schwarz and Jordan Trujillo will compete at Chapman Field.
"This senior class has accomplished so much as a group," head coach Stephanie Hughes said. "It's always hard to transition to a new coaching staff and this group embraced me, my staff and our philosophies early on and helped the underclassmen adapt well."
For the three Islander pitchers, Cecchetti, Pesina and Trujillo, their Division I athletic careers started two years ago after each of them transferred from junior colleges.
"This is most likely the strongest pitching class I have ever coached," Hughes said. "They make it easy to work with a new batting line up when I know we have three of the top pitchers in the conference at our disposal each game."
Cecchetti is from Bollate, Italy and is in her second year with the Islanders after transferring from Polk State College, where she broke the season and career records for pitchers ERA. In her two seasons with the Islanders she has struck out 171 batters in 188 innings while holding a 1.75 ERA. This season against SFA, Cecchetti had one of her most impressive weekends in the circle. In the two games combined against SFA she struck out 18 Ladyjacks in 11.2 innings of work. For the week Cecchetti totaled 25 strikeouts in 17.2 innings while posting a 1.19 ERA. During the first game she registered a career-high 11 strikeouts.
From 2004-2011 Cecchetti played for the Italian National Team and was part of the 2007 European Championship team. She played in Italian Softball League from 2004-2011 and won the 2005 Italian Championship. She started the game against Japan in the 2009 KFC World Cup in Oklahoma.
"It's been a great experience," Cecchetti said. "I wouldn't change anything about it. I wish my teammates good luck for their next seasons. This weekend makes me sad because my collegiate career as a college softball player is almost over, but I'm also happy at the same time because of all the good memories I have on this field. It means a lot to me that my parents could fly over here and come to watch my last home games."
Also joining Cecchetti in the circle the past two years has been Pesina and Trujillo.
Pesina is from Corpus Christi and is in her second year as an Islander after transferring from Alvin Community College. As a junior she was named Second Team All-Southland conference after going 12-5 with a 2.05 ERA in the circle, which was sixth best in the conference. This season she powered the Islanders to a 2-1 conference victory over UTSA. She registered a season-best six strikeouts against then No. 11 Oklahoma State in seven innings. In her two seasons with the Islanders she has struck out 76 batters in 170 innings while holding a 3.09 ERA.
"My favorite softball memory here at Texas A&M Corpus Christi would be winning the Southland Conference regular-season title last season," Pesina said.
Trujillo is from Sierra Vista, Ariz. and is in her second year with the Islanders after transferring from Pima Community College where she was named the 2010 Region I Player of the Year. In her first season as an Islander she was named Third Team All-Southland Conference. She appeared in 24 games while starting 22 and registered a 14-7 record. Trujillo posted a team-high 124 strikeouts in 136 innings thrown for a 2-to-1 walk to strikeout ratio. As a junior she posted a conference-high six shutouts and led the team with 13 complete games. She also tied a school record with 11 innings thrown against McNeese State and struck out a career-high 13 at Northwestern State. This season, Trujillo recorded a season-high eight strikeouts against UTSA and has registered 58 strikeouts in 66 innings.
"I have had a great experience here and I am glad to have played for this university," Trujillo said. "I wish my teammates good luck next year and I will miss you all. This weekend means a lot to me because it is what I worked for almost my whole life to play for a university and it is the last home series I will ever play here. It is sad but I am also happy to have had all the great memories I have had at this field and with my team."
In the outfield, the Islanders have been powered by three seniors, Cain, Redman and Schwarz. For Cain and Redman it will put the final touches on their four years playing on the Island, while Schwarz, will wrap an outstanding three-year career as an Islander in the outfield.
Cain, a native of Buda, Texas, is in her fourth season with the Islanders. As a freshman she played in 39 games for the Islanders while starting all 25 at second base. As a sophomore she played in 25 games while totaling a career-high .393 batting average and 11 runs. Last season, Cain was part of the regular-season championship team and this season she has tied a career-high five stolen bases while starting in 18 of the Islanders 25 games.
"I'm very grateful for all the life lessons softball has taught me and this weekend in my eyes reminds me of my growth," Cain said.
Redman, a native of New Lenox, Ill., is a four-year starter in the outfield while also splitting some time in the infield as a freshman. In her first year as an Islander she started 47 of 49 games she appeared in while batting .306 on the season. As a sophomore she finished third on the team in batting average with a .354 mark and had a career-high 13-game hitting streak. Against Centenary she registered a school record four steals. Redman was named Second Team All-Southland. Last season, Redman was 6-of-8 in stolen bases and had a team-high eight sacrifice hits while starting in 45 of 49 games. This season, Redman leads the team with seven stolen bases and 11 runs.
"This weekend means saying goodbye to my second home," Redman said. "I have spent more hours on this field than in any other place in Corpus and I wouldn't change that for anything. Whether it was running our butts off or laughing them off I have had some of the best times here. I have made some of the best friends anyone could ask for on this field. I have also had my fair shares of failures, triumphs and learned valuable life lessons on this field."
Schwarz, a native of Kerrville, Texas is a three-year starter for the Islanders and has led the Islanders in the classroom, on the field and in the community the past three years. She holds the highest GPA of any senior female student-athlete. As a junior she earned First Team All-Southland Conference honors and had the highest batting average on the team at .358 which was third in the conference. Schwarz was named to the Capital One Academic All-District VI team and honored with the Southland Conference Steve McCarty Citizenship Award. She was also named Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I First Team All-Region and was under consideration for All-America honors. In 2011 she was tabbed CoSIDA Third Team Academic All-America®. This summer, she made program history with a World Cup of softball appearance with Team Canada and was selected to play in the Pam American Games.
"Throughout my career, I have had total support from my family," Schwarz said. "This senior weekend is a tribute to them. I appreciate that they have always been there cheering me on. Their love has pushed me to who I am today as a softball player but also as a person.
"Softball has been a big part of my life up to this point. It has given me many opportunities to travel and to meet a lot of different people. I have created friendships that will last a lifetime! It is bittersweet to see my last collegiate games on the horizon. I have loved this chapter of my life but look forward to the next!"
Schumann has led the Islanders this season as the only senior in the infield with her veteran skills and communication. The Corpus Christi native is a four-year letterwinner in the infield.
During her freshman year, she started 37 games and recorded 38 putouts and 104 assists while playing the majority of games at third base. As a sophomore she hit .338 in 65 at-bats while plating 17 runs. Last season, Schumann started 34 games and played in a total of 45 games as the Islanders best utility player. She made starts at first, second and third base as well as in the outfield and had a fielding percentage of .994 while committing just one error. This year, Schumann has been the vocal leader in the infield. She leads the team with 24 hits in 95-at bats and is second on the team with four stolen bases.
"The first few years were rough but they definitely built a lot of heart, character and discipline and gave me some good times and friendships along the way," Schumann said. "This weekend means all my hard work over the past 17-18 years of playing softball has paid off and I have finally fulfilled my dream to play college softball. I have done my time and it's time to celebrate and get recognized for it. It's also a time to give thanks for the gift God gave us to play and also give thanks to our parents getting us where we are today."
The seven seniors along with the rest of the Islanders softball team will face McNeese State on Friday at 2 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m. The senior festivities will follow Saturday's game. Both games will be played at Chapman Field.
"This group covers all aspects of the game from pitching to hitting but most importantly leadership and work ethic," Hughes added. "They are great people off the field which means more to me than any batting average or ERA. I wish them all the luck in everything they do after their time as an Islander is over."
Get to know the Islanders seniors:
What is your favorite saying? "Do it right do it light do it wrong do it long."
If you could hit against anyone who would it be? "Monica Abbott."
What are two things you must have on the road with you? "My headphones and my phone."
Why did you choose to come to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi? "It's such a beautiful place."
What is your pre-game ritual and do you have any in-match superstitions?
"I paint my nails a different color the day before every series."
If you could pitch against anyone who would you pick? "Coach Hughes lol."
Most famous number in your cell phone? "Sarah Pauly jk. Francisco Cervelli (catcher for the New York Yankees)."
What is one thing you must have on the road with you? "My baby seal."
Why did you choose to come to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi? "Because of the living legend Sarah Pauly."
What are your plans for after graduation? "Going back home to Italy."
Tip to my fellow islanders: "Let the field be made of REAL grass and dirt."
What is your favorite saying? "YOLO."
What is your pre-game ritual and do you have any in-match superstitions? "My pre-game ritual that I have to do for every game would be to wake up two hours before we leave, straighten my hair and put my game day makeup (gotta look cute while playing duhh) it's a must to always have my hot pink lipstick on, sparkles is a must for me. My in-match superstitions would have to be to always touch the chalk line before running to the circle, where I have to do two crosses on the chalk before getting the ball and pitching it."
If you could pitch against anyone who would you pick? "I would want to pitch against Josh Hamilton."
Your teammates would be shocked to know what about you? "My teammates would be shocked to know that I really get hurt when they always make fun of me."
Why did you choose to come to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi? "I chose Texas A&M - Corpus Christi because I wanted to play back home where all my family and friends would be able to watch my games."
What are your plans for after graduation? "After graduation my plans are to become a softball coach at my high school."
Favorite Coach Hughes saying? "We have the best pitching staff in our conference."
What is your favorite saying? "Never let being good get in the way of being great."
What is your pre-game ritual and do you have any in-match superstitions? "Hair, make-up, ribbon #tooeasy. You have to look good to play good! In match superstitions- are to hit my butt with my bat, draw a line at the plate and stare down the other team… intimidation baby!"
If you could hit against anyone who would it be? "CC Sabathia, I would so hit a home run!"
Your teammates would be shocked to know what about you? "Before every home game at my apartment I sing and dance to "Lucky" by Britney Spears."
Most famous number in your cell phone? "My mom. If you don't know her, you should."
What's your favorite thing about Corpus Christi? "Whataburger. Yummy! Also, learning slang Spanish. Thank you Constance, Vead, and Vianca."
What are your plans for after graduation? "Leave all my friends and move back to Chicago L #reallifeproblems."
What is your pre-game ritual and do you have any in-match superstitions?
"The only ritual I really have for pre-game personally is when I'm on deck to hit. I have a stretching warm-up routine with my bat."
If you could hit against anyone who would it be? "A major league baseball pitcher like Texas Rangers' Derek Holland."
Most famous number in your cell phone? "My boyfriend Jonathan."
What are two things you must have on the road with you? "My phone (with music) and my little pillow."
What is your favorite softball memory at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi?
"My favorite softball memory has to be winning conference at UT Arlington last year (on the last weekend of the regular season)."
Why did you choose to come to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi? "I was familiar with the school and coach at the time and I felt like I could really enjoy staying in Corpus to fulfill my college softball dream with my friends and family close by."
What are your plans for after graduation? "To get a job and start making money along with getting a lot of certifications to excel in the personal training field and get married!
What is your pre-game ritual and do you have any in-match superstitions? "For home games, my parents and I always eat at Town and Country Restaurant!"
If you could hit against anyone who would it be? "Coach Hughes!"
What are two things you must have on the road with you? "Coke Zero/My Ipod/my cell phone."
What is your favorite softball memory at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi? "Hands down it would be taking the Conference Championship last year in Dallas. To be honest, I feel I cannot recall the exact emotions I was feeling. I only remember being on cloud nine!"
Why did you choose to come to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi? "I transferred from Blinn Juco after my freshman year. Some holes in the outfield opened up and Coach Schu was interested. I came on a quick visit after going to the Juco World Series, and fell in love with Corpus and the University. It was a beautiful day in May and I could not say no!"
What are your plans for after graduation? "I will graduate in December with a degree in education. I plan on working wherever the jobs are! If CCISD is hiring I am not opposed to staying in the area. If they are not hiring I will travel down Highway 37 toward the San Antonio area."
What is your pre-game ritual and do you have any in-match superstitions? "My pregame ritual is to do the same pitching warm up before every single game and I throw at least eight of each pitch because that's my jersey and my favorite number is eight. When I am in the circle I have to wipe my hand in the dirt before every pitch."
Your teammates would be shocked to know what about you? "That I talk really quietly. ;) lol."
Most famous number in your cell phone? "Coach Pauly."
What are two things you must have on the road with you? "My cell phone and Ipod."
What is your favorite softball memory at Texas A&M - Corpus Christi? "My favorite memory was the moment we won the Southland Conference regular season."
Why did you choose to come to Texas A&M – Corpus Christi? "I chose to come here because I liked the school, team and location."
What are your plans for after graduation? "To move back to Arizona and continue my education to get into the program to become a dental hygienist."
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