ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington softball opens its Sun Belt Conference slate with a three-game series against ULM Saturday and Sunday at Allen Saxe Field.
"We are all very excited to open conference this weekend," UTA coach Kristie Fox said. "There are no off weekends in this very strong Sun Belt Conference and ULM is a tough squad."
The Mavericks (12-9) took two out of three from the Warhawks (13-7) last season, dropping Game 1, 2-1 before bouncing back to take the final two games, both with a score of 4-3.
Due to anticipated bad weather later in the day on Saturday, Game 1 of the doubleheader has been moved up to an 11 a.m. start.
Week Recap: With seven games in six days, the Mavericks had one of their busiest weeks of the season, going 4-3 with wins over Saint Francis, Southern and Incarnate Word.
The Mavs opened the week splitting a doubleheader with Saint Francis on Tuesday, falling in Game 1, 6-3 before taking Game 2, 6-0.
UTA's bats exploded on Thursday run-ruling Southern, scoring 16 runs in five innings.
Hosting Incarnate Word, Saint Francis and Tulsa in the Maverick Classic over the weekend, the Mavericks got clutch hits and strong pitching from Sam Montes to win both games against Incarnate Word, 7-1 and 11-3 (5). UTA dropped a 5-2 decision to Saint Francis and were shutout by Tulsa, 7-0.
Montes had a strong week in the circle, throwing 15 innings in four games, going 2-0 with eight strikeouts and a 2.33 ERA.
Laura Curry had a standout weekend at the plate, going 10-for-18 with a double and two triples to hit .556.
A Look at ULM: The Warhawks are led by Senior Melanie Coyne. The Huntington Beach, Calif. native is 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA in the circle. She also does her part offensively, hitting .327 with 13 RBI.
Sydney McKay is hitting a team-high .468, starting in all 20 games. Cheyenne Lyon is their top run producer, driving in 14, while scoring 16.
"We know they like to put things in motion," Fox said. "We have been working hard on our defense to make sure we are prepared."
Tough in the Circle: Sam Clakley has been a force on the mound, sitting fourth in the Sun Belt and 46th in Division I in ERA at 1.04. Her 54 strikeouts are the 54th most in the nation and fifth in the SBC. The sophomore has thrown five complete-game shutouts good for second in the conference and third in Division I. Fellow SBC member, Devin Brown of South Alabama is the league leader with six. Clakley tops the Sun Belt and sits 14th in Division I in wins with nine.
Montes and Clakley have shown good command of their pitches, ranking second and third in the conference and 37th and 69th in Division I in walks allowed per seven innings with 0.95 and 1.30, respectively.
Mavs in the National Rankings: The Mavs sit fifth in the Sun Belt in home runs per game with 0.67. Whitney Walton's five home runs are good for fifth in the Sun Belt.
With 13 double plays turned, the Mavs are tied for fourth in Division I and lead the SBC. Their 0.62 double plays per game are tops in the SBC and 10th in Division I.
UTA is second in the conference in stolen bases per game with 1.24, only behind this weekend's foe ULM at 2.21.
Shelbi Sikes is as tough as anyone, sitting first in the SBC and 34th in the nation in hit by pitches per game with 0.33.
Curry's two triples are good for second most in the SBC and 30th in the nation.
Knowledge Nuggets: The Mavericks are 10-0 when limiting opponents to two runs or less. Eight of the Mavericks 12 wins have come when the Mavericks do not make an error.
Holding a lead has been a strength of the pitching staff with the Mavs being 7-0 when leading after five and 9-0 when leading after six.
UTA is 11-2 and when they first, opposed to 1-7 when the opponent scores first.
UTA's 14 home runs so far has already surpassed their home run total from last season (11).
Up Next: The Mavericks wrap up their season-high 16 game homestand with a midweek match-up against former Southland Conference foe Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday, March 15. UTA returns to Sun Belt action with a three-game series at No. 18 Louisiana March 17-18.
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