May 10, 2016
UT Arlington (29-19, 8-16 SBC) at Sun Belt Championship
May 11-14 | Jaguar Field| Mobile, Ala.
By Brooke Ortale | UTAMavs.com
MOBILE, Ala. - After a hard fought regular-season, UT Arlington earned the seven seed in the Sun Belt Championship and open the tournament against six-seeded Troy on Wednesday at Jaguar Field.
"I think we can beat any team here in the conference," sophomore Sandra Mendoza said. "If we come tomorrow and play at very best we can get it done"
The Mavs hosted Troy in the final home series of the year, dropping two of three in a tightly contested battle - each team splitting an extra-inning affair.
The opening-round game with Troy is slated to start at 12:30 p.m. The winner will advance to the double-loss elimination portion of the tournament to take on Texas State at 5:30 p.m.
Follow @UTASoftball on Twitter for all updates regarding the Sun Belt Championship.
A Look into the Sun Belt Championship: Louisiana earned the top seed in this year's Championship after losing just two in Sun Belt play, one to the Mavericks. The tournament's host and defending champion, South Alabama, finished second in the conference with Texas State and Georgia Southern right behind the Jags. Georgia State, Troy, UTA and ULM round out the tournament participants.
The Mavs have earned a berth into the Sun Belt Championship all three years UTA has been in the conference. UTA's lone win while a member came in 2014 against Texas State. The Mavs were eliminated quickly in 2015, dropping their first game of the tournament, 6-1 to ULM.
UTA is 2-6 over the last five years during tournament play, appearing in conference tournaments as a member of the Southland, WAC and Sun Belt.
Mendoza's Record-Breaking Season: In the final home series of the season, Mendoza broke the Mavs single-season hits record previously set at 71. In the last regular-season series, she added five more hits to put the record at 76.
"It was awesome," Mendoza said. "It's really good for the program. We come out here and work every day. The girls push me every day and I think I push them so it's really good for the program."
Her 15 doubles puts her in a tie for fifth on the single-season doubles list, only three shy of Kristi Bryant's and Dorcas Coston's 17 they hit in 1993 and 1984 respectively. Mendoza's 19 extra-base hits are good for a tie for sixth on the single-season extra base hits list. Meagan Michele's 26 from a year ago tops the record book. Mendoza has 39 RBI this season placing her sixth on the single-season RBI list. Shelbi Sikes set the record with 45 in 2015. Mendoza is on pace to shatter the single-season batting average record of .417, hitting .469 following regular-season play.
Mavericks in the Rankings: UTA sits 79th in the country and fourth in the Sun Belt in winning percentage (.604) and 105th in Division I and third in the SBC in batting average (.293). The Mavs lead the conference in doubles (1.35) and triples per game (0.21). UTA ranks fifth in the conference in scoring (4.79) and third in stolen bases per game (1.25).
The Mavs are just as good on the defensive side of the ball, sitting second in the conference in double plays turned per game (0.31) and third in the Sun Belt and 68th in the nation in fielding percentage (.967)
Mendoza's .469 batting average is the 9th highest in Division I softball and second best in the SBC. She leads the SBC in doubles per game (0.31) and leads the conference and is 21st in the nation in on-base percentage (.532). Mendoza and Laura Curry are tied for fourth in the Sun Belt and 30th in the nation in triples with four, averaging 0.08 a game, good for fourth in the conference and 55th in Division I.
Kacey Everett leads the conference and is second in the nation in sacrifice flies with six, while Rebecca Stokes leads the Sun Belt and is 21st in Division I in sacrifice hits per games (.26). Curry ranks second in the SBC and 26th in the nation in sacrifice hits per game (0.25)
Samantha Clakley's three saves on the year tops the Sun Belt and is good for 50th in the nation. Her 18 victories are fourth in the conference.
Underclassmen Lead the way: The underclassmen have played a major role in the team's success this season. Mendoza (sophomore) leads the team in most offensive categories. Mendoza is a team leader in batting average (.469), hits (76), triples (4), RBI (39), slugging percentage (.611) and on-base percentage (.532).
Krista Rude (freshman) and Curry (freshman) are second and third on the team in batting average, hitting .397 and .319 respectively. Curry leads the team in runs, scoring 38 times on the year, while Rude is the team's stolen base leader, swiping 15 so far this season. Brianna Burchianti (freshman) has also played a major role in the team's success hitting .265 with 23 RBI, primarily as the designated player for the Mavericks.
Clakley (freshman) has been dominant in the circle, recording a team-low 3.11 ERA with 129 strikeouts and 18 wins in 191.1 innings thrown.
Record Watch: Curry's 38 runs this season put her ninth on the Mavs single-season runs list. Nine Villanueva sits at the top scoring 52 runs last season.
Sikes' 30 walks on the season places her in a tie for eighth on the single-season walks list. Barilli is three away from appearing on the list for third time in her career with 28 walks this year.
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