Softball Opens 2013 Season Thursday at No.7/9 Texas on Longhorn Network

GAME NOTES

TEXAS CLASSIC

Feb. 7-10 • At Red & Charline McCombs Field • Austin, Texas | SCHEDULE

Game 1: Thursday, Feb. 7 • 7 p.m. | No. 7/9 Texas vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi

TV: Longhorn Network: Carter Blackburn/Amanda Scarborough | LIVE STATS | AUDIO

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Game 2: Friday, Feb. 8 • 3 p.m. | Memphis vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi | LIVE STATS

Game 3: Saturday, Feb. 9 • 10 a.m. | North Texas vs. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi | LIVE STATS

Game 4: Saturday, Feb. 9 • 4 p.m./6:30 p.m. | TBA   

Game 5: Sunday, Feb. 10 • 9 a.m./12 p.m. | TBA  


THE FIRST PITCH

The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will open its 2013 campaign in Austin, Texas against No. 7/9 Texas on Thursday, Feb. 7. The Islanders will then compete in the Texas Classic Friday, Feb. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 10 at Red & Charline McCombs Field. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will take on Memphis and North Texas and will have a chance to take on Texas again either on Saturday or Sunday.  

The Islanders finished with an overall 18-23 record last season and tallied an 11-9 record in Southland Conference play. This season, the team is leaning on trust and sacrifice to help them get back to the conference championships. The Islanders will depend on a young squad with just one senior on the team and 15 on the roster. However, the Islanders return four of their top six hitters, including 11 letterwinners and three starters.

Last season, the Islanders faced both Texas and North Texas. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi fell short in its upset bid against then No. 13-ranked Texas on Feb. 15 in Austin. The Islanders dropped a close 6-5 loss. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi picked up their first victory of the season last year against North Texas, 7-5, in the Hilton Houston Plaza Classic. 

The Islanders will open the 2013 season against No. 7/9 Texas. It marks the second consecutive year the Islanders have opened the season against a ranked opponent. Last season, the Islanders opened the season against No. 20-ranked Houston. The only other time the Islanders opened the season against a ranked opponent was in 2010 when they faced then-No. 10 Stanford. The Islanders will face the Longhorns for the 20th meeting in school history. Texas holds the 18-1 advantage. 

QUICK HITS

•Texas A&M - Corpus Christi lost seven seniors including three of the Islanders' top pitchers and outfielder Hannah Schwarz who led the NCAA in sacrifice hits per game in Division I last season.

•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.

• The Islanders advanced to the Southland Conference Tournament for the fourth year and finished fourth.

• The 2013 team will welcome four newcomers: Freshman Ashley Elicerio (P/UT), freshman Dani Tefft (OF), Natalie Zarzabal (OF) and sophomore transfer from McLennan CC, Michelle Sorenson (C/UT).

•The Islanders return four of their top six hitters. Leading the way is Laura Phillips and Mickayla Cochran. Phillips led the team last season with a .339 batting average while Cochran was second on the team with a .293 batting average. Hayley Galloway was third on the team with a .276 batting average and Meagan McKinney rounds out the top six with a .255 batting average.

•McKinney is the Islanders only senior. She started in all 37 games she played in last season. She finished third on the team with 26 hits and second with 12 runs. She was also 4-for-5 in stolen bases and led the team with 274 put outs, which was good for sixth place in the conference. She earned the Islanders Gold's Gym Award in strength and conditioning last season.

•Head Coach Stephanie Hughes is in her second year with the Islanders. She became the Islanders fifth head coach in program history when she was hired on August 19, 2011. Hughes 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 also enter their second year with the Islanders 

SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS

Texas: The No. 7/9 ranked Texas Longhorns finished with a 47-14 record last season and tied for third in the Big 12 with a 16-8 record. The Longhorns advanced to the NCAA Super Regional and finished ranked No. 9/12. Texas returns 10 letterwinners, including seven positional starters and three pitchers. The squad welcomes six newcomers. Torie Schmidt returns as the Longhorns top hitter with a .358 batting average. Returning in the circle is Gabby Smith who led the team last season with a 2.15 ERA in 26 innings. Blaire Luna also returns to the circle. She led the team in innings pitched with 188 and recorded a 2.31 ERA. 

Memphis: Memphis enters Friday's contest with five of their starters from last season, including two pitchers. Altogether the Tigers return 12 letterwinners and welcome seven newcomers. Last season, Memphis finished with a 20-37 record and tallied an 8-16 record in Conference USA. Senior Morgan Mosby led the Tigers last season with a .335 batting average while Junior Ellen Roberts powered the Tigers in the circle with a 3.06 ERA in 199.1 innings pitched.  

North Texas: The Islanders and Mean Green will meet on Saturday. Last season, North Texas tallied a 28-26-1 record and finished in fourth place in the Sun Belt with a 13-10 record. The Mean Green returns 11 letterwinners, including three starters and all four of their pitchers. North Texas welcomes eight newcomers to its roster. Brooke Foster leads the Mean Green at the plate. Last season, she recorded a .319 batting average while leading the team with 60 hits. Ashley Kirk returns to the circle for the Mean Green. She led the team last season with a 2.39 ERA in 155 innings pitched. The Islanders earned a 7-5 victory over the Mean Green last season after Jamise Jackson ripped her first grand slam of her career to push the Islanders ahead. 

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 will lead the pitchers in the circle this season with the most experience. She recorded a 3.28 ERA last season in 10.2 innings.  She tallied a 0-1 record while striking out six batters in 10.2 innings. Sophomore Bethany Slick appeared in one game last season and recorded one strikeout in 2.1 innings. The Islanders will rely heavily on right-handed pitcher Ashley Elicerio. The freshman and utility player played four years for Hendrickson High School under head coach Doug Harrigan.           

FRESH FACES

The 2013 team will welcome four newcomers, freshman Ashley Elicerio (P/UT), freshman Dani Tefft (OF), freshman Natalie Zarzabal (Of) and sophomore transfer from McLennan CC, Michelle Sorenson (C/UT). 

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. 

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. 

Sorenson recorded 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. 

PRESEASON POLLS

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. 

SCHEDULE

Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will play host to 21 games at Chapman Field this season. The Islanders will play a total of 50 regular-season games and will play a three-game series format in the Southland Conference. The Islanders will once again have a competitive non-conference schedule. After the Texas Classic, the team will travel to Waco, Texas to compete in the Miken Classic, hosted by Baylor University. The Islanders will then open their home schedule with Kansas before hosting the Best Western Marina Grand Islanders Classic. Kansas, Auburn, New Mexico and Southern University are all on tap to compete. The Islanders will also compete in the CentralLink Classic in San Marcos, Texas, against the likes of North Texas, Purdue and former SLC Champion Texas State. 

UP NEXT

Following the Texas Classic, the Islanders will travel to Waco, Texas, to compete in the three-day Miken Classic on Feb. 15-17, hosted by Baylor University.