NORTHWESTERN STATE (21-6, 2-3 SLC) AT TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (6-21, 1-5 SLC)
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will continue Southland Conference action this weekend when they host Northwestern State in a three-game series at Chapman Field. The Islanders will open play on Saturday, March 23, in a doubleheader before wrapping the series on Sunday, March 24, in the annual strikeout breast cancer pink game.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is coming off a tough weekend in Lake Charles, La. The Islanders dropped a three-game series and are looking to snap a six-game losing streak. The Islanders are 3-5 at Chapman Field after picking up victories against Houston Baptist, New Mexico and Kansas.
The last time the Islanders and Lady Demons faced each other was last season in the first conference road test of the season. The Islanders fell to the Lady Demons 3-0 in Natchitoches, La. before bouncing back to earn a 3-1 victory. Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is 13-5 all-time against Northwestern State and Saturday's opening game will mark the 19th meeting between the two teams.
The Islanders will head into the weekend with a 6-21 record including a 1-5 record in SLC action, while Northwestern State holds a 21-6 record and a 2-3 record in SLC play. The Islanders are 1-0 under Head Coach Stephanie Hughes in the strikeout breast cancer pink game. Last season, the Islanders notched a 3-1 victory over Southeastern La. in their pink jerseys.
•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.
•Senior Meagan McKinney is powering the Islanders' bats with a .311 batting average. She is second on the team with 23 hits while leading the team with five doubles and two home runs to go along with a team-high 14 RBI.
•Mickayla Cochran has been consistent as the Islanders' leadoff batter. She is second behind McKinney with a .302 batting average and leads the team with 13 runs and 26 hits.
•Lindsey Lyles has stepped up for the Islanders' bats. She leads the Islanders in all six conference games with a .333 batting average and has an overall .220 batting average and .381 on-base percentage.
•Junior Laura Phillips put the Islanders on the board in the second game against McNeese State with a two-out solo homer in the top of the sixth. It marked her second career home run and first of the season.
•Junior Constance Brandenburg leads the Islanders in the circle with 78.2 innings pitched and 37 strikeouts.
•Freshman Ashley Elicerio had a career day with seven strikeouts in six innings in the second game against McNeese State.
•The Islanders are 5-3 when they outhit their opponents.
•Saturday's opening game will mark the 19th meeting between the two teams. The Islanders hold the 13-5 all-time series advantage over the Lady Demons.
•Head Coach Stephanie Hughes is in her second year with the Islanders and 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 are also in their second year with the Islanders.
SCOUTING THE LADY DEMONS
Northwestern State heads into Saturday's game with a 21-6 record including a 2-3 record in conference play. The Lady Demons are 0-2 on the road in league play after dropping two at McNeese State. Northwestern State picked up two home conference wins against Nicholls State and dropped one to the Colonels.
Tara McKenney leads Northwestern State with a .388 batting average and 38 hits while Brianna Rodriguez is second on the team with a .386 batting average. Kylie Roos (7-1) leads the Lady Demons in the circle with a 1.32 ERA in 58.1 innings and has tallied a team-high 72 strikeouts. Kaylee Guidry (5-1) has a 1.84 ERA in 49.1 innings and has tallied 28 strikeouts.
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 (4-9) has been the Islanders go to pitcher in the circle this season with a 4.18 ERA in 78.2 innings. Brandenburg has tallied a team-high 37 strikeouts in 20 appearances. The junior recorded a career-high nine strikeouts in a complete game strikeout, while allowing just one walk and four hits over Kansas.
Sophomore Bethany Slick (1-2) picked up her first career victory in the circle against Northern Colorado in her first career start. Slick has a 5.75 ERA in 24.1 innings and 10 appearances.
Ashley Elicerio (1-10) rounds out the pitchers with a 5.79 ERA in 61.2 innings and 16 appearances. Elicerio also has seen action at the plate and has tallied a .231 batting average in five games and has tallied three hits. She clinched her first career victory in the Islanders 7-3 victory over Southern. Elicerio recorded a career-high six strikeouts in seven innings and allowed just two hits. She improved her career-high with seven strikeouts in six innings at McNeese State.
Leadoff hitter Mickayla Cochran has been consistent for the Islanders this season. The sophomore is second on the team with a .302 batting average in all 27 starts. She has a team-high 26 hits and has recorded three doubles to go along with two home runs. Cochran also has a team-high 13 runs and has posted 36 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.
Ashley 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.
Natalie 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. This season, Zarzabal tallied her first career home run against Northern Colorado in the Islanders 6-4 victory. She has tallied a hit in four straight games.
Dani 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. This season, Tefft recorded two hits and two runs in five starts in left field at the Texas Classic. The freshman went 2-for-3 against HBU in game two of the doubleheader.
Sorenson has 73 putouts behind home plate this season and has caught 13 stolen bases. 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 exploded for a season-high 12 hits on in a 6-4 victory over Northern Colorado in the Miken Classic in Waco, Texas. Mickayla Cochran went 3-for-4 with three hits and two RBI to lead the Islanders. The Islanders are 5-3 when they out-hit their opponents and 5-3 when they score first. The Islanders outhit McNeese State 6-5 in the opening game.
Co-captain junior Valerie Perez has been the vocal leader for the team this season along with McKinney. Perez has tallied 16 hits and four doubles this season in 24 games. She has also recorded 41 putouts at shortstop this season. The Islanders have won six games when Perez has been in the starting lineup and 0-4 when the junior hasn't started or been in the game.
Sophomore Hayley Galloway has battled back from off-season surgery to record a .261 batting average. She has made starts in 25 of the Islanders 26 games and has a team-high five sacrifice hits. Galloway has 18 hits and 45 putouts between second base and shortstop this season. She is currently on a five-game hitting streak.
Following Sunday's game the Islanders will travel to Hammond, La. to face Southeastern La. in a three-game series on March 29-30.