SB: Mavs open SBC play at No. 13 South Alabama

March 21, 2014

UTA at USAGet Acrobat Reader

ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington opens its first season in the Sun Belt Conference with a three-game series starting with a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. at No. 13 South Alabama. The Mavericks close the series with a single game Sunday at 12 p.m. against the Jaguars.

The Mavericks (14-15) and the Jaguars (22-3) square off this weekend for the time in program history.

"The team knows we're going into a tough weekend with two really great pitchers at South Alabama, but our goals has always been to scratch one run across and play good defense, and that's what we haven't been doing and that's what's been hurting us," UT Arlington coach Kristie Fox said. "We really need to focus on our defense this week and putting bunts down, and I think we'll be OK."

UTA made several adjustments in the field last week with Nina Villanueva playing first base, Meagan Michele moving to short stop, Shelbi Sikes playing third base and Rebecca Stokes moving to right field.

"We had some things we needed to change and it seemed to work, so we'll stick with the lineup as long as it does," Fox said. "I really want the players to focus on how they can help the team win. You're not always going to have your best stuff, you're not always going to feel well, but you need to focus on what's the one thing you can do to get the win today."

FOLLOWING THE TOURNAMENT: Live Stats, stream and audio are available live on Twitter updates are available through @UTAMavs.

UT ARLINGTON LAST WEEK: The Mavericks wrapped up tournament play with a 1-4 record at the San Diego Classic II. Long Beach State defeated UTA twice. The Mavs split with host team San Diego State, and fell to Harvard to close out the tournament.

SCOUTING SOUTH ALABAMA: The Jaguars are one of two ranked SBC teams. USA is 22-3 overall and undefeated on its home turf (6-0). South Alabama's pitching staff is led by junior Farish Beard, who has a 0.38 ERA and a 13-1 record in 14 appearances. Senior Hannah Campbell has a 0.78 ERA with a 7-2 record in 11 starts. Offensively, Sophomore Stephanie Pilkington leads the Jags with a .329 batting average. She has 26 hits, 15 runs and 12 RBI.

COUNTING HOMERS: Nina Villanueva (4), Jolene Schaefer (3), Britnea Barilli (3), Rebecca Stokes (2), Shelbi Sikes (2), Meagan Michele (2), Jasmine Tanksley (1), Kacey Everett (1-grand slam), Holly Murphree (1).

BIG BATS: Sophomore Jolene Schaefer is leading the Mavericks with a .304 batting average, along with 24 hits and 11 runs. Junior Nina Villanueva leads the team with 22 RBI, while also raking up 24 hits.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Mavericks are 7-12 when not competing at Allan Saxe Field. UTA played 10 home games after hosting two tournaments before league play.

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.

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.

 The Mavericks softball team will be in their third conference in as many years with the move to the Sun Belt. UTA moved from the Southland Conference in 2012 to the Western Athletic Conference in 2013.

 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.

 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 last season, while Barilli finished with a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage.





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