CENTRAL ARKANSAS (35-16, 14-8 SLC) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (9-38, 4-20 SLC)
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will host its final three-game home series this weekend against Central Arkansas at Chapman Field. The Islanders and Bears will meet Saturday, May 4 for a doubleheader before wrapping the series on Sunday, May 5, on Meagan McKinney's Senior Day.
The Islanders swept the Bears last season in Conway, Ark. In the first game, the Islanders put together a huge sixth inning and scored one run in the eighth to edge Central Arkansas 5-4 in extra innings. In the second game, the Islanders rallied back from falling behind 6-0 in the second inning to score seven straight runs and win 7-6, in the first sweep of the season.
The two teams will meet for the 17th time in history in the first of two games on Saturday. The Islanders hold the 10-6 all-time series advantage.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is continuing a six-game homestand and is coming off a tough home series against Nicholls State last weekend. The Islanders are 4-13 at Chapman Field this season, including a 2-10 record at home in conference play.
Central Arkansas will wrap its final road series of the season against the Islanders. The Bears are coming off a three-game sweep over Lamar and have won seven of their last nine games. Central Arkansas has won 14 games in conference play for a 14-8 record.
The Islanders will head into the weekend with a 9-38 record while the Bears hold a 35-16 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 .308 batting average. She is second on the team with 40 hits and leads the team with 21 RBI.
•Hayley Galloway is right behind McKinney with a .284 batting average. The sophomore is third on the team with 38 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 43 hits, 24 runs and four home runs.
• Last weekend against Nicholls State, the Islanders outhit the Colonels in the final two games.
•Two of the top five hitters in the Islanders' lineup are walk-ons. Valerie Perez co-leads the team with eight doubles and has tallied 34 hits and two home runs. Lindsey Lyles leads the Islanders in conference play with a .313 batting average and a team-high 14 RBI.
•Perez is on an eight-game hitting streak, the longest of the season while Cochran is on a five-game hitting streak and Galloway is on a three-game hitting streak. McKinney and Dani Tefft are currently on a two-game hitting streak while Lyles is on a one-game hitting streak.
•Junior Constance Brandenburg leads the Islanders in the circle with a 4.30 ERA. Her 145 innings and 61 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 17th meeting between the two teams in program history. The Islanders hold the 10-6 all-time series record.
•The Islanders will honor senior Meagan McKinney prior to Sunday's game.
SCOUTING THE BEARS
Central Arkansas heads into Saturday's game with a 35-16 record including a 14-8 record in the Southland Conference. The Bears are 10-10 on the road this season and will also wrap the regular season this weekend. Central Arkansas has won seven out of its last nine games. The Bears have conference wins against Stephen F. Austin (3), Sam Houston State (1), Houston Baptist (2), McNeese State (1), Northwestern State (1), Nicholls State (1), Southeastern La. (2) and Lamar (3).
Lindsay Elliot leads Central Arkansas with a .405 batting average while Sam Forrest leads the team with 39 runs and 71 hits to go along with a .397 batting average. Melissa Bryant is second on the team with 63 hits and leads the team with 16 doubles to go along with a .384 batting average. Kelsie Armstrong (27-11) leads the Bears with a 1.60 ERA in 253 innings. She has tallied a team-high 323 strikeouts and has made 42 appearances. Cicely New (2-2) is second on the team with a 4.10 ERA in 13.2 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 (6-17) has been the Islanders go to pitcher in the circle this season with a 4.30 ERA in 145 innings (3rd in SLC). Brandenburg has tallied a team-high 61 strikeouts in a team-high 32 appearances (4th in SLC). She has made starts in 31 of the 47 games, which ties for third 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 .281 batting average in all 47 starts. She has a team-high 43 hits and has recorded eight doubles while hitting a team-high four home runs. Cochran also has a team-high 24 runs and has posted 60 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.
Valerie Perez went 2-for-3 to lead the Islanders' bats in the first game against Nicholls State while Mickayla Cochran and Meagan McKinney went 2-for-3 in the second game for the Islanders.
Perez is on an eight-game hitting streak, the longest of the season, while Cochran is on a five-game hitting streak. Hayley Galloway is on a three-game hitting streak while McKinney and Dani Tefft are on a two-game hitting streak. Lindsey Lyles is on a one-game hitting streak.
Senior Meagan McKinney leads by example on the field. The co-captain leads the team with a .308 batting average and leads the team with 339 putouts at first base, which is good for third in the conference. Her 190 putouts in conference play and her 200 chances in conference play both rank first in the league. She is second on the team with 40 hits and leads the team with 21 RBI.
McKinney, a native of New Braunfels, Texas, is in her fourth year with the Islanders and has been a strong leader this season. In her first year, she played in 49 games and started in 41 at first base and followed it with a Southland Conference Championship during her sophomore year. Last season, McKinney was one of the Islanders most consisted hitters during the season and started in all 37 games she played in while earning the Islanders Gold's Gym Award for excellence in strength and conditioning. McKinney has led the Islanders' offense in batting average, triples and RBIs while starting in every game this season. She is also an active member in the community and serves as the co-chair of the Student-Advisory Committee. McKinney will graduate in December with a degree in business marketing.
Co-captain junior Valerie Perez has been the vocal leader for the team this season along with McKinney. Perez has tallied 34 hits and eight doubles this season in 43 games. She has also recorded 75 putouts at shortstop this season. The junior is in fourth place in conference games with 54 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 .284 batting average. She has made starts in 45 of the Islanders 46 games and has a team-high nine sacrifice hits, which ties for third in the conference. Galloway has 38 hits and 84 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 .313 batting average in conference play and has tallied 21 hits and a team-high 14 RBI. She also has tallied three doubles in conference play. In game two at Lamar, Lyles cranked her first career grand slam.
GET TO KNOW MEAGAN MCKINNEY: