Feb. 27, 2014
UT Arlington (10-6) at Wildcat Invitational
Feb. 28 - March 2
Tucson, Ariz. (Rita Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium)
Live stats/video: ArizonaWildcats.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - The UT Arlington softball team begins a season-long 18-game road trip that begins on Friday at the Wildcat Invitational in Tucson, Ariz.
The Mavericks are coming off a weekend in which they scored 29 runs during the course of six games in the UTA Hilton Invitational. Posting a 4-2 record during the tournament, the Mavs also picked up help from the circle as senior pitcher Callie Collins earned the Sun Belt Conference Pitcher of the Week award.
UT Arlington coach Kristie Fox is set to return to her alma mater for the first time as head coach. Fox won two national titles with the Wildcats during her four-year career (2004-07).
"I am really excited to go back to Arizona," Fox said. "It is a place that I will always call home in a way. It is a good experience and when you think about college softball you think about Arizona. To take my team and our girls to play in that kind of atmosphere is an amazing experience for them to have."
Fox is also looking forward to facing her sister, Arizona junior shortstop Kelli Fox.
"A lot of people are going to be there to support both of us," Kristie Fox said. "It should be a fun game against them. As much as I want her to do well I am there to compete with this group."
The Mavericks open play with a doubleheader beginning at 10 a.m. against Longwood University. UTA is a combined 2-13 all-time against its five opponents it will face during the tournament. The Mavs will face Longwood and Valparaiso for the first time.
"For us, we have to go in there and compete," Fox said. "If we do happen to steal one from them it will be huge for our RPI, this whole tournament will be a huge RPI boost for our team."
FOLLOWING THE TOURNAMENT: Live Stats and video streaming is available live on ArizonaWildcats.com. Updates and live Mavericks coverage can be found on twitter @UTAMavs.
COLLINS NAMED SBC PITCHER OF THE WEEK: Senior pitcher Callie Collins earned UT Arlington's first Sun Belt Conference softball accolades by being named the SBC Pitcher of the Week on Feb. 24.
Collins made five appearances and three starts during the UTA Hilton Invitational, earning a 3-0 record and allowing just two earned runs through 19.1 innings pitched.
HEAD-TO-HEAD vs. OPPONENTS: First All-Time Meeting: Longwood & Valparaiso
Indiana (IU leads 8-1) - Since winning the first meeting 4-0 in 1982, UTA has dropped eight consecutive. The teams last met in 1992, a 1-0 Indiana win in College Station.
No. 9 Arizona (Arizona leads 2-0) - The Mavs have lost each decision against the Wildcats, falling 13-0 in 1987 and 3-1 in 1991 (both meetings in Tuscon, Ariz.).
Iowa (Iowa leads 3-1) - Iowa has won three consecutive over UTA since the Mavs took a 3-0 win in 1988. The Hawkeyes won 1-0 in Waco in the last meeting taking place in 2012.
SECOND YEAR UNDER FOX: UT Arlington begins its second season under coach Kristie Fox. Fox helped the Mavs improve from a 15-26 record in 2012 to a 25-28 record in 2013. Fox, a former All-American, was a two-time national champion at Arizona and an assistant coach at Texas Tech prior to accepting the position with the Mavericks.
THIRD YEAR, THIRD CONFERENCE: The Mavericks softball team will be in their third conference in as many years with the move to the Sun Belt Conference. UTA moved from the Southland Conference in 2012 to the Western Athletic Conference in 2013.
MAVS PICKED 7TH IN PRESEASON: The Sun Belt tabbed the Mavericks to finish seventh in the conference, according to the SBC Preseason Poll. UTA picked up 21 points in the poll, well behind favorite UL Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns received six first place votes to go along with their 62 points overall.
PRESEASON PLAYER HONORS: Junior infielder Nina Villanueva and sophomore outfielder Britnea Barilli were both at-large selections to the Sun Belt Conference Preseason Team. Villanueva led the Mavericks with a .328 batting average, while Barilli finished with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.