HOUSTON BAPTIST (5-5) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (5-15)
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will open the 2013 Southland Conference season Saturday, March 9, at Chapman Field against first-year member Houston Baptist. The Islanders will take on the Huskies in a doubleheader on Saturday before hosting a single game on Sunday, March 10.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi finished with an 11-9 record last season in SLC play while the Huskies finished 2-4 in the Great West Conference. The Islanders are coming off a tough weekend at the CenturyLink Classic hosted by Texas State while the Huskies dropped a doubleheader to UTSA on Wednesday.
The last time the Islanders and Huskies faced each other was last season on April 21 in Houston. The Islanders sealed a 3-0 shutout and outhit the Huskies 11-2. Prior to that, the squad topped the Huskies 3-2 at Chapman Field on April 12. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 13-4 all-time against Houston Baptist and Saturday's opening game will mark the 18th meeting between the two teams.
The Islanders will head into the weekend with a 5-15 record, while Houston Baptist holds a 5-5 record. The Islanders were selected fourth in the preseason polls while the Huskies were tabbed eighth in the Coaches' Poll and ninth in the Sports Information Director's poll.
Head Coach Stephanie Hughes is in her second year with the Islanders and was named the 2013 SLC Preseason All-Conference Coach of the Year by College Sports Madness.
•The Islanders are young with just one senior and 15 on the roster. The squad returns three starters and 11 letterwinners from a team that finished with an 18-23 overall record (11-9 SLC) a year ago.
•Senior Meagan McKinney is powering the Islanders' bats with a .357 batting average. She co-leads the team with 20 hits while leading the team with five doubles and two home runs to go along with a team-high 14 RBI.
•Mickayla Cochran has been consistent as the Islanders' leadoff batter. She is second behind McKinney with a .328 batting average and leads the team with 13 runs. She went 2-for-3 in back-to-back games to open the CenturyLink Classic last weekend.
•Junior Constance Brandenburg leads the Islanders in the circle with 59.2 innings pitched and 35 strikeouts.
•Sophomore Lindsey Lyles blasted two homers last weekend at the CenturyLink Classic, hosted by Texas State. It marked her first two career home runs as an Islander.
•The Islanders will face the Huskies in their 21st game of the season while HBU is set for just their 11th game of the season.
•The Islanders hold the 13-4 all-time series advantage over the Huskies.
•Head Coach Stephanie Hughes is in her second year with the Islanders. She was a four-year letterwinner for Texas State and a two-time SLC Tournament Champion. Assistant Coach Briana Bishop and Pitching Coach Sarah Pauly also are in their second year with the Islanders.
•The Islanders will wrap their four-game homestand on Wednesday against UTSA.
SCOUTING THE HUSKIES
HBU heads into Saturday's game with a 5-5 record after dropping a doubleheader with UTSA at home on Wednesday. The Huskies opened the season with four straight victories before dropping three straight. HBU has victories against Southern University, Alcorn State, Louisiana Tech and Texas Southern.
Callie Herrington leads HBU with a .667 batting average while Hailey Harris is second on the team with a .600 batting average. Lauren Schwirtlich leads HBU with 12 hits. Lori Earl (1-1) leads the Huskies in the circle with a 1.17 ERA in 12 innings. Sarah Shotton (1-1) powers HBU with 17 strikeouts in 17 innings while Keely Shuler (2-1) leads the Huskies in innings pitched with 20 and has a 3.15 ERA in six appearances.
IN THE CIRCLE
Pitching coach and seven-year NPF veteran Sarah Pauly has a young group of pitchers this season after losing standout pitchers Greta Cecchetti, Jordan Trujillo and Vianca Pesina. Cecchetti was second in the Southland Conference last season with a 0.58 ERA and second in strikeouts with 82.
Junior Constance Brandenburg (3-7) has been the Islanders go to pitcher in the circle this season with a 4.58 ERA in 59.2 innings. Brandenburg has tallied a team-high 25 strikeouts in 15 appearances. The junior recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in a complete game strikeout, while allowing just one walk and four hits over Kansas.
Sophomore Bethany Slick (1-2) picked up her first career victory in the circle against Northern Colorado in her first career start. Slick has a 5.87 ERA in 22.2 innings and nine appearances.
Ashley Elicerio (1-6) rounds out the pitchers with a 6.00 ERA in 37.1 innings and 11 appearances. Elicerio also has seen action at the plate and has tallied a .231 batting average in five games and has tallied three hits. She clinched her first career victory in the Islanders 7-3 victory over Southern. Elicerio recorded a career-high six strikeouts in seven innings and allowed just two hits.
Leadoff hitter Mickayla Cochran has been consistent for the Islanders this season. The sophomore is second on the team with a .328 batting average in all 20 starts. She and McKinney have a team-high 20 hits and has recorded three doubles to go along with two home runs. Cochran has a team-high 13 runs and has posted 24 put outs in center field. Cochran went 3-for-4 with three hits and two RBI in a 6-4 victory over Northern Colorado in the Miken Classic in Waco, Texas. She opened the CenturyLink Classic going 2-for-3 in back-to-back games against North Texas and Purdue.
Elicerio is a 5-7 pitcher and utility player. She played four years at Hendrickson High School and was tabbed Utility Player of the Year three consecutive years. She led the Hawks to a 17-9 record during her senior season after advancing the team to the regional quarterfinals.
Zarzabal, a right-handed outfielder, played at Steele High School in Cibolo, Texas. During her sophomore year she recorded a .409 batting average and followed it with a .365 batting average during her junior year. This season, Zarzabal tallied her first career home run against Northern Colorado in the Islanders 6-4 victory.
Tefft was a four-year starter at Kempner High School in Sugar Land, Texas. The left-hander led the team with a .434 batting average while helping her team win the 2011 Bi-District Championship and the 2011 District 23-5A Championship. This season, Tefft recorded two hits and two runs in five starts in left field at the Texas Classic.
Sorenson has 59 putouts behind home plate this season and has caught 11 stolen bases. She posted a .358 batting average while appearing in 43 of 51 games during the 2010-11 season at McLennan CC. She helped her team win the Region V championship and earned second team all-conference honors.
The Islanders exploded for a season-high 12 hits on in a 6-4 victory over Northern Colorado in the Miken Classic in Waco, Texas. Mickayla Cochran went 3-for-4 with three hits and two RBI to lead the Islanders. The Islanders are 4-1 when they out-hit their opponents and 5-3 when they score first.
Co-captain junior Valerie Perez has been the vocal leader for the team this season along with McKinney. Perez has tallied 11 hits and three doubles this season to tally a .212 batting average in 17 games. She has also recorded 30 putouts at shortstop this season. The Islanders have won five games when Perez has been in the starting lineup and 0-4 when the junior hasn't started or been in the game.
Sophomore Hayley Galloway has battled back from off-season surgery to record a .267 batting average. She has made starts in 18 of the Islanders 20 games and has a team-high five sacrifice hits. Galloway has 12 hits and 29 putouts between second base and shortstop this season.
The Islanders were selected to finish fourth in the 2013 Southland Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll in a vote by both the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. Sophomore Mickayla Cochran (OF) was tabbed All-Southland Preseason Second Team. The Islanders were also tabbed fourth in the Preseason Sports Information Director's poll.
Following Sunday's game with the Huskies, the Islanders will host UTSA for a midweek single game on Wednesday, March 13 at 3 p.m. at Chapman Field.