TEXAS A&M - CORPUS CHRISTI (8-33, 3-15 SLC) AT STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (12-27, 5-13 SLC)
THE FIRST PITCH
The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team will embark on its final Southland Conference road series of the season this weekend when it takes on Stephen F. Austin in a three-game series. The Islanders will face the Ladyjacks in a doubleheader on Saturday, April 20 before wrapping the series on Sunday, April 21 in a single game at Ladyjacks Softball Field. The Islanders will then return home to Chapman Field for its final six conference games.
The Islanders swept the Ladyjacks last season at Chapman Field and will face Stephen F. Austin for the 28th time in history in the first of two games on Saturday. The Ladyjacks hold the 14-13 all-time series.
Texas A&M - Corpus Christi is coming of a pair of non-conference losses to UTSA on Wednesday. Prior to that, the Islanders went 1-2 against Sam Houston State last weekend at Chapman Field. The Islanders are 2-16 on the road this season, including 1-8 on the road in conference play.
Stephen F. Austin will continue its six-game homestand on Saturday. The Ladyjacks have dropped seven of its last eight games, with all seven coming in conference play. Stephen F. Austin has won five games in conference play for a 5-13 record in the conference.
The Islanders will head into the weekend with an 8-33 record while the Ladyjacks hold a 12-27 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 .283 batting average. She is second on the team with 32 hits and co-leads the team with 19 RBI.
•Mickayla Cochran is right behind McKinney with a .278 batting average. The sophomore has been consistent as the Islanders' leadoff batter. She leads the team with 37 hits. She also has a team-high four home runs and a team-high 22 runs to go along with six doubles on the year.
• Last weekend in conference action, the Islanders tied a game-high six RBI in the second game against Sam Houston State and matched a game-high 24 putouts in the third game against the Bearkats.
•Valerie Perez tallied her third career homer and second of the season in the second game at UTSA. She also recorded her seventh double of the season.
•Junior Constance Brandenburg leads the Islanders in the circle with a 4.69 ERA. Her 113.1 innings and 46 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.
•Assistant Coach Briana Bishop is in her second year with the Islanders and will face SFA where she was a four-year letterwinner under former All-American Gay McNutt and coach Craig Snider. Bishop garnered several academic and athletic awards on and off the field.
•Saturday's first game will mark the 28th meeting between the two teams in program history. The Ladyjacks hold the 14-13 all-time series record.
SCOUTING THE LADYJACKS
Stephen F. Austin heads into Saturday's game with a 12-27 record including a 5-13 record in the Southland Conference. The Ladyjacks are 4-6 at home this season and will continue a six-game conference homestand at Ladyjacks Softball Field. SFA has dropped seven of its last eight games. The Ladyjacks have conference wins against Lamar (2), Nicholls State (1), Sam Houston State (1) and McNeese State (1).
Elizabeth Arana leads Stephen F. Austin with a .369 batting average and a team-high 41 hits, 20 runs and 16 RBI while Kaneisha Gray is second on the team with a .333 batting average. Carlie Thomas (9-12) leads the Ladyjacks with 133.1 innings pitched, while posting a 3.51 ERA and a team-high 113 strikeouts. Angela White (3-14) is second with 80 strikeouts in 107.1 innings, while posting a 7.30 ERA.
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 (5-13) has been the Islanders go to pitcher in the circle this season with a 4.69 ERA in 113.1 innings. Brandenburg has tallied 46 strikeouts in a team-high 27 appearances (T-4 in SLC). 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 second on the team with a .278 batting average in all 41 starts. She has a team-high 37 hits and has recorded six doubles to go along with a team-high four home runs. Cochran also has a team-high 22 runs and has posted 53 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.
Hayley Galloway went 2-for-3 in the first game against UTSA to lead the Islanders' bats while Valerie Perez went 2-for-3 in the second game at UTSA. Perez is on a two-game hitting streak while Meagan McKinney, Mickayla Cochran, Natalie Zarzabal and J.J. Jackson are all on a one-game hitting streak.
Senior Meagan McKinney leads by example on the field. The co-captain leads the team with a .283 batting average and leads the team with 278 putouts at first base, which is good for third in the conference. Her 129 putouts in conference play ranks first along with her 137 chances in conference play. She is second on the team with 32 hits and leads the team with 19 RBI.
Co-captain junior Valerie Perez has been the vocal leader for the team this season along with McKinney. Perez has tallied 27 hits and a team-high seven doubles this season in 37 games. She has also recorded 68 putouts at shortstop this season. The Islanders have won eight games when Perez has been in the starting lineup and 0-6 when the junior hasn't started or been in the game.
Against the Bearkats, 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 .274 batting average. She has made starts in 39 of the Islanders 40 games and has a team-high eight sacrifice hits. Galloway has 31 hits and 69 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 .327 batting average in conference play, including a team-high 13 RBI and three doubles. Lyles along with Hayley Galloway have a team-high 16 hits in conference play. In game two at Lamar, Lyles cranked her first career grand slam.
Assistant Coach Briana Bishop is in her second year with the Islanders and will face SFA where she was a four-year letterwinner under former All-American Gay McNutt and coach Craig Snider. During her junior campaign she set a new SFA home run record for a single-season with 12 and also holds the school's career mark with 25. Bishop went on to break two more records for doubles and RBIs during her senior year. Bishop was named SFA's Scholar Athlete of the Year in addition to Female Athlete of the Year and earned First Team All-Conference accolades her junior and senior year.
The Islanders will return home to Chapman Field for its final six conference games. First up is a three-game series against Nicholls State on Saturday, April 27 and Sunday, April 28.