Softball Opens Season this Weekend at the CenturyLink Classic
GAME 1: Friday, Feb. 7 • 3:15 p.m. | Texas State vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
GAME 2: Saturday, Feb. 8 • 2:30 p.m. | Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs. Ball State
GAME 3: Saturday, Feb. 8 • 7:00 p.m. | Southern Illinois vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
GAME 4: Sunday, Feb. 9 • 3:00 p.m. | Texas A&M - Corpus Christi vs. Stephen F. Austin
GAME 5: Sunday, Feb. 9 • 5:00 p.m. | Texas State vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will open the 2014 season in San Marcos, Texas this weekend in the CenturyLink Classic, hosted by Texas State. The Islanders are scheduled to take on the Bobcats on Friday, Feb. 7, at 3:15 pm. at the Bobcat Softball Stadium. A&M - Corpus Christi was originally scheduled to take on Texas State at 2:30 p.m., but due to inclement weather and change of schedule the game has been pushed back and the Islanders will play just a single game on Friday.
- The Islanders finished 11-39 last season and 6-21 in Southland Conference play.
- 11 letterwinners will return to action this weekend along with seven newcomers.
- The Islanders lost only one senior from last season's team and will depend on a veteran infield and strong bats to lead the team this season.
- A&M - Corpus Christi returns five of its top six hitters, including leadoff hitter Mickayla Cochran, who started in all 50 of the Islanders' games last season. As a sophomore she led the Islanders in hits, runs, and home runs, while tying the team lead in doubles.
- Junior utility player Lindsey Lyles was tabbed Preseason Second Team All-Southland. She played in all 27 conference games last season while splitting time between third base, shortstop, second base and designed player.
- Assistant Coach Keith Stein joined the Islanders in November after spending the past year as a volunteer assistant coach for UTSA.
- Head Coach Stephanie Hughes enters her third season with the Islanders along with Pitching Coach Sarah Pauly. Hughes was a four-year letterwinner at Texas State and a two-time SLC Tournament Champion.
The Islanders welcome seven newcomers this season, including six freshmen and one junior transfer. Freshmen Liz Carter (Austin, Texas) and Katie Blanar (Pearland, Texas) will join senior Constance Brandenburg in the circle this season while Brittney Morse (Yuma, Ariz.) will split duties with senior Laura Phillips and junior Michelle Sorenson behind the plate. Freshmen Mackinzee Griebel (Lockhart, Texas) and utility player Jessica Mendez (Corpus Christi, Texas) will add speed to the Islanders' offense and outfield. Rounding out the freshman class is Emma Stipe (Round Rock, Texas) who will redshirt this season. Joining the junior class is Cassidy Ivy (Huntington, Texas). She comes to the Island University after playing two seasons at Angelina JC. Ivy will look to split time with senior J.J. Jackson at first base.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
TEXAS STATE: The Bobcats finished the 2013 season with an 18-38 record while tallying a 10-11 record in the WAC. Texas State is selected to finish fourth in the Sun Belt Conference in the Preseason polls. Returning for her senior season is leading pitcher Rayn House, who tallied a 3.09 ERA last season while registering 86 strikeouts. Sophomore Kelli Baker also returns after finishing third on the team last season with a .283 batting average. She led the team with 53 hits and 20 stolen bases while starting in all 56 games.
BALL STATE: The Cardinals finished the 2013 season with a 37-17 record while clinching its fourth MAC regular-season title with an 18-3 record. The squad returns 14 letterwinners including two-time MAC Player of the Year and outfielder Jennifer Gilbert. She led the team with a .451 batting average while recording a team-best 56 runs, 78 hits, 23 home runs and 70 RBIs. Returning to the circle is last season's MAC Freshman of the Year Nicole Steinbach. As a freshman she tallied an impressive 2.28 ERA while recording 114 strikeouts in 160 innings pitched. The Islanders will meet the Cardinals for the first time in program history.
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS: After registering a 25-27 record a year ago, the Salukis return 14 letterwinners, including seven starters. Southern Illinois finished fourth in the MVC after posting a 13-10 record. Returning for the Salukis is senior Jayna Spivey, who led the team last season with 11 home runs, 44 RBIs and started in 50 of the 52 games. In the circle, junior Katie Bertelsen returns after posting a 3.54 ERA last season. Hurler Alyssa Wunderlich also returns to the circle after tallying 73 strikeouts in 133 innings pitched. The Islanders and Salukis will meet for just the second time in program history on Saturday.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN: Fellow Southland foe Stephen F. Austin returns 11 letterwinners from a team that finished 16-32 last season including 9-17 in the conference. This season the Ladyjacks are projected to finish ninth in the Preseason Southland poll. Returning for the Ladyjacks is Preseason First Team player Elizabeth Arana. She led SFA with a 3.99 batting average last season while adding a team-high 57 hits and 25 RBIs. Returning to the circle is senior Carlie Thomas, who led the team with a 2.86 ERA and 117 strikeouts in 137 innings.
The Islanders open the 2014 season with the first 21 games away from Chapman Field. Following the CenturyLink Classic the Islanders trek to Las Cruces, N.M. to compete in the three-day Troy Cox Classic starting on Feb. 14. Northern Colorado, Texas Tech, Weber State and host New Mexico State are all on tap to compete. A&M - Corpus Christi will follow with the UTSA Mid-Major Classic and the Texas A&M Invitational before returning home to open Southland Conference play on Friday, March 7, in a doubleheader against Central Arkansas at Chapman Field. The three-game series will continue on Saturday, March 8, with a single game.
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