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PREVIEW: @Patriot_sb, Lobos meet in final regular-season weekend

Thursday, April 20, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist || wbloomquist@uttyler.edu

TYLER – The No. 2-ranked UT Tyler softball team is on an 18-game winning streak entering the final weekend of the regular season where it will host Sul Ross in a three-game series needing only one win to secure its fourth straight American Southwest Conference regular-season championship.

The Patriots (34-2, 25-2 ASC) have already clinched at least a share of the regular-season title and will host the ASC Championship tournament next weekend at Suddenlink Field regardless of this weekend’s results. UT Tyler leads the nation with a .405 team batting average, a .473 on-base percentage, 20 shutouts and is fourth in the nation with 8.28 runs per game. The team has outscored its opponents by a 298-57 combined margin this season.

The series begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday with a single game before the teams play a noon doubleheader on Saturday. UT Tyler will honor its six-player senior class of Kaylee Prather, Bianca Van Vlerah, Lexi Ackroyd, KK Stevens, Alaina Kissinger and Mel Hinojosa between games of the Saturday doubleheader.

Sul Ross (13-24, 8-19 ASC) travels to Tyler on a seven-game losing streak after getting swept by East Texas Baptist and Mary Hardin-Baylor in its last two series, while the Patriots went on the road and swept Louisiana College last weekend. UT Tyler is 18-1 at home this season entering the weekend and will be the top seed at next week’s ASC tournament.

Stevens comes into her final regular-season series having 193 career hits and 147 RBI. Stevens has made 190 starts at catcher for the Patriots and is having one of her best offensive seasons with 10 home runs and 39 RBI through 36 games this season. She is hitting .394 and also has 10 doubles and 21 singles to go along with her 10 homers which is the fifth most in the nation. Prather is second in the nation with 67 hits which is only behind Jessica Long who has 70 hits for Averett. An outfielder from Elysian Fields, Prather has a .519 batting average with nine doubles, four triples, two home runs and 22 RBI. She has 30 stolen bases this season and is the UT Tyler career leader with 67. Her 67 hits this season is only four shy of the 71 she had last year when she hit .430 in 54 games. Ackroyd enters this weekend hitting .402 with eight doubles and two triples, while Hinojosa is at .423 with 11 doubles, one home run and 28 RBI. At second base, Van Vlerah has 27 RBI with seven doubles, a triple and two home runs and has scored 32 runs.

Cheyenne Thompson leads the team and is 16th nationally with 41 RBI in her sophomore season and is hitting .450 with 16 doubles, one triple and six home runs. She has 11 multi-RBI performances this season, including a five-RBI outburst against Belhaven. Andrea Gonzales has started all 36 games in her first season at UT Tyler and is hitting .423 with 11 doubles and 30 RBI and Hannah Moore has seven triples and two home runs. Alyssa Henry has started the last seven games at designated player and is hitting .474 with nine hits and 10 runs scored, while Courtney Fischer is hitting .423 with five doubles, one home run and 15 RBI for the Patriots.

Alaina Kissinger (18-0) comes into the final weekend of the regular season with a 62-2 career record and 364 career strikeouts. She is currently second in the nation with nine shutouts and third in victories. Her 1.03 career ERA is the lowest in program history. Whitney Romero (12-1) leads the pitching staff with a 0.88 ERA and threw a no-hitter in her last home start against Ozarks. A freshman from Louisiana, Romero has 66 strikeouts this season in 80 innings while Kissinger has 76. Miranda Leal (4-1) earned the final win at LC and has a 2.44 ERA and 17 strikeouts. The UT Tyler pitching staff has a 1.56 ERA with 164 strikeouts, while the opponent pitchers have a 8.31 ERA and have only been able to strike out 77 Patriot hitters.

SCHOOL CONF CPCT. OVERALL PCT. STREAK
UT Tyler 25-2 0.926 34-2 0.944 W18
East Texas Baptist 22-5 0.815 30-6 0.833 W10
UT Dallas 21-6 0.778 29-8 0.784 W9
Mary Hardin-Baylor 20-10 0.667 25-12 0.676 W7
Louisiana College 18-9 0.667 24-12 0.667 L8
Hardin-Simmons 11-16 0.407 17-19 0.472 L4
Concordia Texas 9-18 0.333 16-21 0.432 W2
LeTourneau 8-19 0.296 13-24 0.351 L3
Sul Ross State 8-19 0.296 13-24 0.351 L7
Howard Payne 4-23 0.148 6-29-1 0.181 L1
Univ. of Ozarks 4-23 0.148 6-28 0.176 L13
Belhaven # 0-0 0.000 16-19 0.457 W6

# Ineligible for 2017 ASC Championship/NCAA Tournament (Div. III Provisional)

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