April 3, 2008
ARLINGTON, Texas - Two programs battling for position in the Southland Conference softball standings square off this weekend as UT Arlington hosts McNeese State in a critical three-game series at Allan Saxe Field.
The Cowgirls (15-25, 8-7 SLC) and Mavericks (15-16, 9-9) are ranked sixth and seventh, respectively, in the league standings entering the series, which begins with a doubleheader Saturday at 1 p.m. and concludes with a noon start time on Sunday.
The Mavericks are riding a three-game winning streak, including a doubleheader sweep at home Wednesday against Prairie View A&M. UTA ranks second in the conference in team ERA (2.36) and third in team batting average (.278).
The Mavericks' 33 home runs are tied with Stephen F. Austin for tops in the league. Sophomore Brittany Washington leads the team with eight homers, followed by freshman Rebecca Collom and senior Amanda Swofford with six each.
Six UTA players are batting better than .300 in conference competition: sophomore Cara Hulme (.367), junior Christina Allen (.333), sophomore Samantha Chumchal (.326), Swofford (.321), Washington (.321) and Collom (.304).
UTA pitchers could pile up the strikeouts this weekend. McNeese State batters have whiffed a league-high 222 times this season and Mavericks pitchers average a league-leading 7.1 strikeouts per game.
The Cowgirls have won seven of their last eight games and are coming off a three-game sweep last weekend against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. McNeese State has plenty of speed in its lineup and leads the Southland Conference in doubles (56) and stolen bases (70). By comparison, UTA has 32 doubles and 16 steals.
McNeese State senior catcher and designated player Jenny Clay was named the Louisville Slugger NFCA Division I co-Player of the Week for the week ending March 30. She batted .824 for the week, going 14-for-17 with six doubles, one triple and three home runs. She also had nine RBIs and scored seven runs.
In conference action, Clay is batting .457 and Rachel King is hitting an even .400 to lead the Cowgirls. Michelle LaVoie has been their most effective pitcher in SLC games with a 4-3 record and a 3.17 ERA.
UTA holds a 39-35 advantage in the all-time series with McNeese State and has won 11 of the last 13 meetings.