CORPUS CHRISTI – Central Arkansas put together a five-run top of the second and added three runs in the sixth to clinch an 8-3 victory over the Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball team in the final game of the series at Chapman Field.
Senior Valerie Perez powered the Islanders' bats (5-16, 1-2 SLC) going 2-for-3 while hurler Liz Carter added a hit and a RBI while pitching five innings in the circle. The Bears (10-15, 2-1 SLC) collected 11 hits to earn the series win.
The Bears jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the top of the fifth after scoring five runs on four hits. With one out, Briana Whisenhunt hit a single through the left side before Mickayla Cochran snagged the fly out to center field for the second out of the inning. Tylor Dodson then singled to left field to put Bears on first and second. Amy Gunnells followed with a RBI single to right field to plate Whisenhunt and put the Bears on the board. Hannah Stirton then stepped to the plate and reached on a fielder's choice to score Dodson. Sam Forrest was hit by the pitch on the next play to load the bases for the Bears. Sarah Bigej then hit a three-run double to left center to plate Forrest, Stirton and Gunnells to put the Bears in front 5-0. Brittney Morse caught the fly out behind home plate to end the frame.
The Islanders answered with two runs on two hits in the bottom of the second to pull within three. Cochran jumpstarted the inning with her second triple of the season and scored on a RBI single through the middle by Carter. The Islanders added another run after Dani Tefft reached on a Bear throwing error to score Carter.
A&M - Corpus Christi rallied back to trim the deficit to two after adding a run on two hits in the bottom of the third. With one out, Perez drilled her first triple of the season to right center and scored after J.J. Jackson cranked her second double of the season to center field.
The Bears extended their lead to 8-3 in the top of the sixth with three runs on four hits. Gunnells hit a leadoff single through the left side and advanced to second after Stirton reached on an infield single. Forrest then singled to right center to score Gunnells. After a walk by Bigej placed Bears on first and second, Stirton stole home to put the Bears ahead 7-3. UCA added another run after Taylor Dear hit a single to center field to plate Forrest. Freshman Katie Blanar came in to replace Carter in the circle and retired the next two Bears to pull the Islanders out.
Perez added two hits while Jackson, Cochran and Carter each added one hit apiece.
Carter (5-7) suffered the loss for the Islanders in the circle. The freshman allowed 11 hits and eight runs while walking three and striking out one in five innings. Blanar did not allow a hit or a run and registered two strikeouts in two innings.
Kylee Studioso (6-4) picked up the win for the Bears in the circle. She didn't allow a hit or a run in 4.2 innings and tallied five strikeouts.
The Islanders will head back out on the road for their next six games. First up is a non-conference doubleheader on Tuesday, March 11, at Texas State. The Islanders will then continue conference play at Northwestern State on March 15-16 before taking on UTSA in a single game on March 19.
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