TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (6-18, 1-2 SLC) AT MCNEESE STATE (20-7, 2-0 SLC)
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will continue Southland Conference action this weekend when they trek to Lake Charles, La. to take on McNeese State in a three-game series. The Islanders will open conference road play on Saturday, March 16, in a doubleheader with the Cowgirls before wrapping the series on Sunday, March 17.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi opened the conference schedule against HBU at Chapman Field last weekend. The Islanders edged the Huskies 4-3 in the first game after Lindsey Lyles cranked a walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh. However, the Huskies came back to snare the next two games to go 2-1 on the weekend. The Islanders hosted former Southland Conference foe UTSA on Wednesday, dropping a 9-4 loss at Chapman Field.
The last time the Islanders and Cowgirls faced each other was last season in the opening round of the conference tournament. The Islanders fell to the Cowgirls 11-3. Prior to that, the Cowgirls took two from the Islanders at Chapman Field. Texas A&M - Christi dropped the first game 3-2 before falling 1-0 on senior day. Texas A&M – Corpus Christi is 16-13 all-time against the Cowgirls and Saturday's opening game will mark the 30th meeting between the two teams.
The Islanders will head into the weekend with a 6-18 record including a 1-2 record in SLC action, while McNeese State holds a 20-7 record and a 2-0 record in SLC play.
•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 .323 batting average. She is second on the team with 21 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 .312 batting average and leads the team with 13 runs and 24 hits. She went 2-for-3 in back-to-back games in the CenturyLink Classic, hosted by Texas State.
•Lindsey Lyles has stepped up for the Islanders' bats in the dp slot. She leads the Islanders in conference play with a .556 batting average and sits in fourth overall with a .244 batting average and .426 on-base percentage.
•Junior Constance Brandenburg leads the Islanders in the circle with 69.1 innings pitched and 35 strikeouts.
•The Islanders outhit the Roadrunners 8-6 and are 5-2 when they outhit their opponents.
•Saturday's opening game will mark the 30th meeting between the two teams. The Islanders hold the 16-13 all-time series advantage over the Cowgirls.
•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. Assistant Coach Briana Bishop and pitching Coach Sarah Pauly are also in their second year with the Islanders.
•After Sunday's series finale, the Islanders will return home to host Northwestern State in a three-game series at Chapman Field on March 23-24.
SCOUTING THE COWGIRLS
McNeese State heads into Saturday's game with a 20-7 record and are on a seven-game winning streak, including a two-game Southland Conference streak after sweeping Northwestern State at home. The Cowgirls have hosted their last four games and will continue an 11-game homestand Saturday.
Lauren Langner leads McNeese State with a .379 batting average and 33 hits while Emily Vincent is second on the team with a .359 batting average. Meagan Bond (9-2) leads the Cowgirls in the circle with a 1.17 ERA in 66.0 innings and has tallied a team-high 81 strikeouts. Jamie Allred (9-2) has a 1.35 ERA in 72.2 innings and has tallied 75 strikeouts.
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 (4-7) has been the Islanders go to pitcher in the circle this season with a 4.64 ERA in 69.1 innings. Brandenburg has tallied a team-high 35 strikeouts in 18 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 5.75 ERA in 24.1 innings and 10 appearances.
Ashley Elicerio (1-9) rounds out the pitchers with a 6.08 ERA in 53.0 innings and 14 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 .312 batting average in all 24 starts. She has a team-high 24 hits and has recorded three doubles to go along with two home runs. Cochran also has a team-high 13 runs and has posted 32 putouts 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. Cochran went 2-for-4 in the conference opener vs. HBU.
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. The freshman went 2-for-3 against HBU in game two of the doubleheader.
Sorenson has 61 putouts behind home plate this season and has caught 12 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 5-2 when they out-hit their opponents and 5-3 when they score first. The Islanders outhit UTSA 8-6 on Wednesday.
Co-captain junior Valerie Perez has been the vocal leader for the team this season along with McKinney. Perez has tallied 13 hits and four doubles this season in 21 games. She has also recorded 36 putouts at shortstop this season. The Islanders have won six 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 .246 batting average. She has made starts in 22 of the Islanders 23 games and has a team-high five sacrifice hits. Galloway has 15 hits and 42 putouts between second base and shortstop this season.
Following Sunday's game the Islanders will host Northwestern State in a three-game series at Chapman Field on March 23-24.