SB: Competition building for UTA outfield

Jan. 30, 2018

2018 Schedule | Roster | Tickets

ARLINGTON, Texas -
One of the deepest areas of the UT Arlington Softball roster is found in the Maverick outfield, with six competing for starting spots in the Feb. 9 season opener in Baton Rouge, La.

UTA lost just one from the 2017 roster, Mallory Foster to graduation, and has a wealth of talent scattered throughout all three positions both offensively and defensively. Juniors Krista Rude and Laura Curry return as two that made the most starts last year, but Melanie Mendoza, Kayci Moore, Bri Burchianti and Cy'Andria Newton are making it difficult to name a trio of starters.

"It is probably one of the best feelings you have," UTA coach Peejay Brun said. "You know the three that you put out there will continue to get better because of the game experience, but it is nice to know that we are having an issue choosing them because so many people are performing."

Rude, from Arlington, Texas, is a two-time selection to the Sun Belt's all-conference teams, as well as earning a spot as an NFCA All-Region member in her freshman season. Rude led UTA with a .359 batting average last season, knocking a team-high 66 hits. Curry featured a .302 average to go with a .423 slugging percentage, making most of her starts in center. Curry powered her first-career home run in a crucial situation to help UTA reach the Sun Belt semifinals last year for the first time.


 

 

Despite major competition for playing time, the pair have said that this group is as close as ever as they prepare for 2018.

"We have all been together for the last three years for the most part," Curry said. "We all hang out with each other all the time and are really close friends. With that being consistent, it has helped us stay together in the outfield. We can all rely on each other and trust each other, so that helps a lot."

A constant with this group has been blistering speed both in the field and on the bases. Newton and Rude led the team in stolen bases as they went a combined 22-for-25. While taking the extra base is a huge help, covering the vast outfield makes it seem like there isn't any open space when the ball leaves the bat.

"We are all really fast, we know we can cover a lot of group and can really rely on everyone," Rude said. "We don't have to fade one way and we are all about even. We all can catch the ball, we can really trust each other to know which ball is ours and which isn't. We really do trust each other."

Behind Rude and Curry, coach Brun has had her eye on the group knowing that she has a huge challenge ahead of her in balancing the playing time in each situation. Two that have impressed thus far has been Newton and Mendoza.

"This year, one of the things that we have seen is Cy'Andria really stepping up," Brun said. "She has been tracking and reading balls really well out in left. Melanie is really stepping up as well, she has been the quiet kid but at practice she is starting to hit the ball out of the park so it is hard to ignore her out there."

From the players side, the fall was spent as a time learning about the new coaching staff as first-year coach Brun is joined by assistants Charlotte Morgan and Megan Coronado. Curry and Rude both echoed that it didn't take much time before it felt like the team wasn't skipping a beat in the transition.

"It has definitely changed for the best in having a new coach," Curry said. "She is really personable and caring as to what our needs are and how we feel for the day. She finds a way to really relate to us on a better level. We all trust her and the process and everyone on this team has been really buying in and it has had a positive effect on us all.

The Mavericks open up the season on Feb. 9 in the Tiger Classic hosted by LSU. UTA takes on Syracuse in the opener at 9:30 a.m. before an ESPN3 night cap against host LSU at 5 p.m.

UTA opens its home schedule at Allan Saxe Field on Feb. 13 when Big 12 foe Texas Tech comes to Arlington.

HOW TO BUY TICKETS
Full season and single-game tickets to attend UTA baseball and softball events will be on sale on Friday, Dec. 8 through the UTA Box Office in person or by calling (817) 272-8585 and online throughUTATickets.com. Season tickets are available for as low as $75 for softball and $75 for baseball. Single-game tickets begin at $6, while tickets for Feb. 27th’s date vs. TCU and April 24 vs. OU begin at $10. Tickets for UTA’s matchup against Baylor at Globe Life Park on March 6 are $12. UTA students and faculty staff tickets are available for just $5 for a single game or at a reduced rate for season tickets. Visit UTATickets.com for detailed information.

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