2016 NCAA Division III National Champions
PREVIEW: No.1 @Patriots_sb hosts UMHB this weekend
UMHB (9-6)
#1 UT Tyler (14-0)
3/3/2017 | Tyler, Tx | Attendance: 324
UT Tyler130211X8132
Win: Whitney Romero (6-0) 6.030003
Loss: Haley Parker (5-4) 3.096611
Makenzie Dawson (UMHBSB17) 412000
Kaylee Prather (UTTSB) 444201

Wednesday, March 1, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist || wbloomquist@uttyler.edu

TYLER – The No. 1-ranked UT Tyler softball team returns to action this weekend with a three-game American Southwest Conference series against Mary Hardin-Baylor at Suddenlink Field having started the season with a 122-13 run advantage and matching the third best start in program history.

The Patriots (13-0, 6-0 ASC) are the unanimous National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association top-ranked team for the fourth straight week and the 14th time in 15 weeks and are currently 5-0 at home. UT Tyler has dominated its schedule through the first five weeks of the 2017 season after winning last year’s national championship and will host UMHB starting at 6 p.m. on Friday before a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday which is Military Appreciation Day with free admission for all veterans and current Military members (additional information below).

UT Tyler also started the 2007 season with a 13-0 record before dropping a game and were 20-0 in 2015 and 25-0 in 2008 for the best starts in program history under head coach Mike Reed who enters this weekend with 587 career wins.

UMHB (9-5, 4-5 ASC) is coming off getting swept by No. 3 East Texas Baptist last weekend in Belton, including an 18-11 series finale where the Cru had 13 hits buts also 14 errors against the Tigers. UT Tyler and ETBU (11-0, 6-0 ASC) will meet up next week on Tuesday and Wednesday in Marshall.

Kaylee Prather has started the season on a 13-game hitting streak and leads the Patriots with 29 hits and a .592 batting average. A senior outfielder from Elysian Fields, Prather was named the ASC Hitter of the Week for the first time in her career on Tuesday after having 10 hits against LeTourneau last weekend and four more in last week’s non-conference sweep at Trinity. Prather has three triples, four doubles, 13 RBI and 12 stolen bases on her season’s resume. She is in her second season at UT Tyler after transferring from LSU-Alexandria and is already second all-time in stolen bases with 49 and only 11 from matching Lauren Robenalt who had 60 steals from 2011-14 for the Patriots. Prather is coming off a 4-for-5 performance in the series finale in Longview.

Cheyenne Thompson is second on the team with 24 hits and is tied with KK Stevens for the team lead with three home runs. Thompson is hitting .533 to start her sophomore season and leads the Patriots with 21 RBI through 13 games. A Mexia native, Thompson already has six multi-RBI performances this season and also has six doubles. Stevens, a senior catcher from Plano, is hitting .425 with 15 RBI and 17 total hits. She has started all 13 games this season at catcher and has six multi-hit games, including going 2-for-4 in the finale against LeTourneau.

Andrea Gonzales enters this week with 18 hits and 12 RBI, while Bianca Van Vlerah is hitting .415 with 17 hits and Mel Hinojosa is at .410 with 16 hits. Hinojosa leads the Patriots with seven doubles and has four multi-RBI games and Lexi Ackroyd has 12 hits and eight RBI to start their senior seasons. Gonzales went 3-for-3 in the final two games against LeTourneau and finished the three-game series 8-for-8 with five RBI. A junior first baseman, Gonzales is on a four-game hitting streak along with Van Vlerah.

UT Tyler has hit eight home runs this season, including Courtney Fisher who hit the first of her career last weekend. Fisher is 11-for-22 this season at the plate for the Patriots who are hitting .434 with 34 doubles, three triples and eight home runs this season.

While the offensive is rolling, Alaina Kissinger (8-0) and Whitney Romero (5-0) have been dealing for the pitching staff. Kissinger went 3-0 last week and is now 52-2 in her career. A senior from Telephone, she had a season-high nine strikeouts in the series opener against LeTourneau in five innings and now has 320 career strikeouts. Romero, a freshman from Louisiana, has started her UT Tyler career with wins in all five of her starts. She has not allowed an earned run and has 29 strikeouts in 28.0 innings this season. Kissinger has walked only one batter all season in 45.0 innings, while Romero has three walks for the Patriots. On the flipside, the UT Tyler offense has walked 37 times through 13 games.

The Cru opened ASC play by taking two of three from LeTourneau and then two of three from Howard Payne. UMHB is hitting .368 as a team with Devon Walter leading the team with 23 hits and a .411 average. Walker, Cori Drake and Leah Brown lead the team with two home runs each. Karen Tennis (3-2) has 17 strikeouts and a 4.12 ERA through 35 2/3 innings of work, while Haley Parker (5-3) has 22 strikeouts and a 4.13 ERA through 42 1/3 innings this season.


The UT Tyler softball and baseball programs will host Military Appreciation Day on Saturday with all veterans and current military members receiving free admission. The first 25 people who visit the Veteran Affairs table at the entrance of the Irwin Complex will receive free t-shirts and hot dogs and free drinks will be provided for military members. Saturday’s games will begin with the Korean War Veterans Color Guard at the softball game and the John Tyler JROTC at the baseball game.