ARLINGTON, Texas - After helping UT Arlington softball make a run into the Sun Belt semifinals last year, three Mavericks garnered SBC Preseason All-Conference selections, announced on Thursday by the league office.
Senior second baseman Sandra Mendoza, junior outfielder Krista Rude and sophomore first baseman Aileen Garcia were all honored by the league's preseason announcement. The trio also enter 2018 as the three returners out of four All-Conference selections to end last season. The three preseason nods are tied for second most in the league, only behind defending champion Louisiana.
Mendoza returns to the lineup as one of UTA's most prolific offensive hitters as she chases down several all-time Maverick softball records. Mendoza, a 2016 NFCA All-Region selection and Top-50 Player of the Year watch, is hitting .368 for her career. The mark ranks best all-time, slightly edging out Katie Jones' .367 average between 2005-08. Mendoza's 193 hits have her in reach of the all-time top 10, while her 37 career doubles are tied for third all-time, 11 away from besting the program's mark.
Rude, a two-time all-league selection and 2016 NFCA All-Region member in her freshman season, comes in as a spark of energy for the lineup. Rude led the Mavericks with a .359 batting average last season with 50 of her hits going for singles, adding in a double and triple. Rude's career average of .370 would best the all-time mark once she reaches the qualifying at-bats to place on the list as she battles Mendoza for the top spot.
Garcia had a breakout season as a freshman, earning all-conference honors at the end of the season. Garcia hit .309 with four home runs, eight doubles, while knocking 47 hits and bringing in 29 runs. Garcia featured a slugging percentage of .441.
Along with the Preseason All-Conference selections, the Sun Belt released its Preseason Coaches' Poll, with Texas State earning the nod as league favorite with 95 points and six first-place votes. Louisiana came in second, earning four first-place votes. UT Arlington was selected to finish sixth in the poll.
Randi Rupp from Texas State was named the league's Preseason Pitcher of the Year, while Ariel Ortiz, also from the Bobcats, was named the Preseason Player of the Year.
UTA opens its 2018 slate under first-year head coach Peejay Brun on Friday, Feb. 9 in Baton Rouge, La. at the Tiger Classic against Syracuse. UTA then takes on Texas Tech in the highly anticipated home opener on Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. at Allan Saxe Field.
Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Texas State (6)
2. Louisiana (4)
3. Georgia State
4. South Alabama
7. Coastal Carolina
10. Appalachian State
Preseason All-Sun Belt Team
- Randi Rupp (Texas State, SP, Sr.)1
- Devin Brown (South Alabama, SP, Sr.)1
- Ivie Drake (Georgia State, C, Sr.)1
- Lexie Comeaux (Louisiana, C, Jr.)2
- Aileen Garcia (UTA, 1B/C, So.)2
- Kaleigh Todd (South Alabama, 2B, Sr.)1
- Sandra Mendoza (UTA, 2B, Sr.)2
- Ariel Ortiz (Texas State, SS, Sr.)1
- Kristian Foster (South Alabama, SS, Sr.)2
- Alissa Dalton (Louisiana, SS, So.)
- Kara Gremillion (Louisiana, 3B, Jr.)1
- Krista Rude (UTA, OF, Jr.)2
- Mekhia Freeman (Georgia Southern, OF, So.)2
- Kelli Martinez (Louisiana, OF, Sr.)
- Megan Litumbe (Georgia State, DP, RSr.)1
Sun Belt Preseason Player of the Year
- Ariel Ortiz (Texas State, SS, Sr.)
Sun Belt Preseason Pitcher of the Year
- Randi Rupp (Texas State, SP, Sr.)*
12017 First Team All-Sun Belt selection
22017 Second Team All-Sun Belt selection
*2017 Sun Belt Preseason and Postseason Pitcher of the Year selection
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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