BEST WESTERN MARINA GRAND ISLANDERS CLASSIC
Feb. 22-24 • Chapman Field • Corpus Christi, Texas
Thursday, Feb. 21 • 3 p.m. • Kansas
Game 1: Friday, Feb. 22 • 11 a.m. • Kansas
Game 2: Friday, Feb. 22 • 3 p.m. • Auburn
Game 3: Saturday, Feb. 23 • 3 p.m. • New Mexico
Game 4: Sunday, Feb. 24 • 11 a.m. • Southern University
All fans without a valid Texas A&M – Corpus Christi parking pass or a disabled parking tag are required to park in the Bayside Parking Garage located on campus.
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will host Kansas Thursday, Feb. 21, in a single game at Chapman Field in the home opener. The Islanders will then host the three-day Best Western Marina Grand Islanders Classic Feb. 22-24. Kansas, Auburn, New Mexico and Southern University are on all tap to compete. The Islanders will open its first two of four games on Friday, Feb. 22, against Kansas from the Big 12 and Auburn from the SEC. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi will then take on New Mexico from the Mountain West on Saturday, Feb. 23, before wrapping play on Sunday, Feb. 24 against Southern University from the SWAC.
The Islanders finished with a 1-4 record last weekend at the Miken Classic on the campus of Baylor University. The squad dropped two games to Baylor and one to Pacific and Northern Colorado before wrapping the weekend with a 6-4 victory over the Bears.
The Islanders are 4-5 against this weekend's opponents and will face Kansas and Auburn for just the second time in program history. The Islanders are 0-1 against both the Jayhawks and Tigers and 1-3 against the Lobos, while holding the 3-0 advantage over the Jaguars.
The Islanders will open the home slate on Thursday with a 2-8 record while the Jayhawks are 7-2.
•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 last year for the fourth year and finished fourth.
•Last season, McKinney started in all 37 games she played in. 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.
• Junior Constance Brandenburg leads the Islanders in the circle with 32 innings pitched and 16 strikeouts.
• The Islanders exploded for a season-high 12 hits on Sunday in a 6-4 victory over Northwestern State. Mickayla Cochran went 3-for-4 with three hits and two RB.
•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.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENTS
Kansas: The Jayhawks enter Thursday's game with a 7-2 record after competing in the Florida International Tournament and the Tiger Invitational. Kansas only has dropped two games, one against North Carolina State and the other against Auburn. Cassen Salamone leads the team with a .667 batting average while Alex Hugo is second on the team with a .483 batting average. Hugo leads the team with 14 hits. Kelsey Kessler leads the Jayhawks in the circle with a 1.83 ERA in 23 innings. Alicia Pille is second in the circle with a 2.13 ERA in 23 innings of work.
Auburn: The Tigers enter Friday's contest with a 10-2 record. Auburn started the season 10-0 before dropping its last two games at home. On Sunday, Auburn fell 6-4 to Chattanooga in seven innings and lost 4-1 to Georgia State on Wednesday. Morgan Estell leads the Tigers with a .472 batting average. Melero Branndi is second on the team with a .406 batting average. Hilary Mavromat leads Auburn in circle with a 0.94 ERA in 29.2 innings. She has tallied 25 strikeouts and has allowed 14 hits in eight appearances.
New Mexico: The Islanders will meet New Mexico on Saturday. The Lobos head into Friday's play with a 6-8 record. New Mexico opened the season in Tempe, Ariz. at the Kajikawa Classic. The Lobos picked up their first win against Hampton University before sealing wins against Central Michigan, Bradley, IPFW and New Mexico State. Mariah Rimmer leads the Lobos with a .364 batting average while Cassandra Kalapsa is second on the team with a .346 batting average. Kaela DeBroeck leads New Mexico in the circle with a 3.26 ERA in 19.1 innings. Lisa Rodrigues is second on the team with a 3.95 ERA in 27.1 innings.
Southern University: The Islanders will face the Jaguars on Sunday. Southern University comes into Friday's games with a 0-10 record and are looking for their first victory of the season. Emily Wright leads Southern University with a .267 batting average in 10 games. Desiree Dawson is second with a .250 batting average. Delphia Holmes leads the Jaguars with a 9.00 ERA in 20 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 has been the Islanders go to pitcher in the circle this season with a 3.50 ERA in 32 innings. The junior recorded a career-high eight strikeouts against Memphis this season.
Sophomore Bethany Slick picked up her first career victory in the circle on Sunday against Northern Colorado in her first career start. Slcik leads the Islanders with a 3.39 ERA in 10.1 innings Ashley Elicerio rounds out the pitchers with a 12.33 ERA in 15.1 innings. Elicerio has a .333 batting average in two games.
The 2013 team welcomes 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. Last weekend, 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. Tefft recorded two hits and two runs in five starts in left field at the Texas Classic.
Sorenson has 25 putouts behind home plate this season. 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 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.
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 Best Western Marina Grand Islanders Classic, the squad will head to San Marcos, Texas to compete in the CentralLink Classic, hosted by former Southland Conference opponent Texas State. The Islanders will face the likes of North Texas, Purdue and former SLC Champion Texas State.