SB: Mavs open home SBC play with WKU

March 28, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas - UT Arlington softball hosts WKU this weekend to begin the Mavericks' first Sun Belt Conference home series.

The Mavericks open their first home conference series with a three-game stint starting with a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. against WKU. The Mavericks close the series with a single game Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Lady Toppers.

The Mavericks (14-18, 0-3 SBC) and the Lady Toppers (20-10-1, 3-0 SBC) square off this weekend for the first time in program history.

"We're going back-to-back against two of the top teams in the conference, but I think opening against South Alabama is going to give us a good mindset going against Western Kentucky," UT Arlington coach Kristie Fox said. "Our pitchers know they need to have a good outing , we need to play defense behind them and come up with some timely hitting."

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

UT ARLINGTON LAST WEEK: The Mavericks opened Sun Belt Conference play against No. 13 South Alabama in Mobile. The Jags swept the Mavericks including back-to-back run rule games in Saturday's doubleheader. The Mavericks led 1-0 against the Jags Sunday, but late errors caused a 2-1 loss in eight innings.

SCOUTING WKU: The Lady Toppers are 20-10-1 overall and 3-0 in Sun Belt Conference action after sweeping Troy to open league play. Senior Olivia Watkins is third in batting average (.452) and third in runs scored (27) in the SBC. Watkins has 27 stolen bases to lead the league. WKU features three other batters hitting over .300, while there pitching staff combines for a 2.38 ERA.

AT THE PLATE: The team has dropped below the .300 mark after a weekend sweep from South Alabama. Sophomore Jolene Schaefer is leading the Mavericks with a .279 batting average, along with 24 hits and 11 runs. Junior Nina Villanueva leads the team with 23 RBI, while raking up 26 hits.

HOMEBODIES:  The Mavericks are at their best when playing at Allan Saxe Field with a 7-3 home record so far this season. Six players hit over .300 when at home, but sophomore Rebecca Stokes leads the team with a .414 batting average with 12 hits and 11 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).

 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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