NICHOLLS STATE (19-24, 9-11 SLC) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (9-35, 4-17 SLC)
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will return home for its final two home conference series. The Islanders will first host Nicholls State this weekend in a three-game series at Chapman Field. The Islanders and Colonels will meet Saturday, April 27 for a doubleheader before wrapping the series on Sunday, April 28 in a single game.
The Islanders and Colonels split the series last season in Thibodaux, La. In the game two victory, the Islanders exploded for 13 hits and 11 runs after putting together an eight-run, five-hit second inning. The two teams will meet for the 18th time in history in the first of two games on Saturday. The Colonels hold the 12-5 all-time series.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is coming off a 1-2 weekend at Stephen F. Austin. The Islanders garnered the first game before dropping the next two against the Ladyjacks. The Islanders are 4-10 at Chapman Field this season, including 2-7 record at home in conference play.
Nicholls State will continue its six-game road trip on Saturday. The Colonels have dropped four of its last five games. Nicholls State has won nine games in conference play for a 9-11 record in the conference.
The Islanders will head into the weekend with a 9-35 record while the Colonels hold a 19-24 record.
•The Islanders are young with just one senior and 14 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 .298 batting average. She is second on the team with 36 hits and leads the team with 21 RBI.
•Hayley Galloway is right behind McKinney with a .276 batting average. The sophomore is third on the team with 24 hits and leads the team with nine sacrifice hits.
•Mickayla Cochran has been consistent as the Islanders' leadoff batter. The sophomore leads the Islanders with 39 hits, 23 runs and four home runs.
• Last weekend against Stephen F. Austin, the Islanders outhit the Ladyjacks in all three games. The Islanders are 7-7 when they out-hit their opponent.
•Two of the top five hitters in the Islanders' lineup are walk-ons. Valerie Perez leads the team with seven doubles while chipping in 30 hits and two home runs. Lindsey Lyles leads the Islanders in conference play with a .351 batting average and a team-high 20 hits.
•Perez is on a five-game hitting streak while McKinney is on a four-game hitting streak and Cochran and Lyles are on a two-game hitting streak. Dani Tefft and Laura Phillips are all on a one-game hitting streak.
•Junior Constance Brandenburg leads the Islanders in the circle with a 4.50 ERA. Her 129 innings and 53 strikeouts pitched this season have surpassed her recorded innings pitched and strikeouts in her first two seasons. She recorded 54.1 innings and 31 strikeouts her first two years.
•Saturday's first game will mark the 18th meeting between the two teams in program history. The Colonels hold the 12-5 all-time series record.
•The Islanders will close out the regular season next weekend against Central Arkansas.
SCOUTING THE COLONELS
Nicholls State heads into Saturday's game with a 19-24 record including a 9-11 record in the Southland Conference. The Colonels are 5-12 on the road this season and will continue a six-game conference road trip. Nicholls State has dropped four of its last five games. The Colonels have conference wins against Lamar (1), Northwestern State (1), Stephen F. Austin (2), Houston Baptist (2), Southeastern La. (2) and Central Arkansas (1).
Ashley Bertot leads Nicholls State with a .350 batting average and a team-high 50 hits, 33 runs and 12 stolen bases. Brittany Marcet is second on the team with a .336 batting average and leads the team with 11 doubles. Hannah Haydel (7-9) leads the Colonels with a 3.15 ERA while Ashton Bennett (11-11) leads the team with 65 strikeouts in a team-high 130.1 innings.
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 (6-15) has been the Islanders go to pitcher in the circle this season with a 4.50 ERA in 129 innings (7th in SLC). Brandenburg has tallied a team-high 53 strikeouts in a team-high 30 appearances (4th in SLC). She has made starts in 21 of the 44 games, which ties for fourth in the conference. The junior recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in a complete game strikeout, while allowing just one walk and four hits over Kansas.
Leadoff hitter Mickayla Cochran has been consistent for the Islanders this season. The sophomore is third on the team with a .271 batting average in all 44 starts. She has a team-high 39 hits and has recorded six doubles to go along with a team-high four home runs. Cochran also has a team-high 23 runs and has posted 55 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. She recorded her fourth career homer in the Islanders victory over Sam Houston State.
Meagan McKinney and Lindsey Lyles went 3-for-5 in the opening two games combined against Stephen F. Austin to lead the Islanders' offense while Laura Phillips went 2-for-3 in game three.
Valerie Perez is on a five-game hitting streak while McKinney is on a four-game hitting streak. Cochran and Lyles are on a two-game hitting streak. Dani Tefft and Phillips are on a one-game hitting streak.
Senior Meagan McKinney leads by example on the field. The co-captain leads the team with a .298 batting average and leads the team with 302 putouts at first base, which is good for third in the conference. Her 153 putouts in conference play ranks first and her 161 chances in conference play are in a tie for first. She is second on the team with 36 hits and leads the team with 21 RBI.
Co-captain junior Valerie Perez has been the vocal leader for the team this season along with McKinney. Perez has tallied 30 hits and a team-high seven doubles this season in 40 games. She has also recorded 73 putouts at shortstop this season. The junior is tied in seventh place in conference games with 44 assists.
The Islanders have won nine games when Perez has been in the starting lineup and 0-6 when the junior hasn't started or been in the game.
Against Sam Houston State, the junior stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the seventh with one out and cranked a two-run walk-off homer to lift the Islanders to a 6-5 victory. The win snapped a five-game losing skid and led the Islanders to its third conference victory of the season. Perez drilled her second home run of the season at UTSA.
Sophomore Hayley Galloway has battled back from off-season surgery to record a .276 batting average. She has made starts in 42 of the Islanders 43 games and has a team-high nine sacrifice hits, which ties for third in the conference. Galloway has 34 hits and 75 putouts between second base and shortstop this season.
Lindsey Lyles has stepped up for the Islanders in conference play. She leads the team with a .351 batting average in conference play, including a team-high 20 hits and a team-high 13 RBI. She also has tallied a team-high three doubles in conference play. In game two at Lamar, Lyles cranked her first career grand slam.
The Islanders will remain at home next weekend to close out their regular season at Chapman Field. The Islanders will host Central Arkansas in a three-game series starting with a doubleheader on Saturday, May 4. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will then wrap the series on Sunday, May 5, on Meagan McKinney's Senior Day.