2016 NCAA Division III National Champions
GAME DAY: @Patriots_sb, ETBU set for ASC clash
#1 Texas Tyler (16-1, 9-1 ASC)
at
#3 East Texas Baptist (14-1, 9-1 ASC)
3/8/2017 | Marshall, Texas | Attendance: 447
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Texas Tyler0001001240
East Texas Baptist0000010132
PitchingIPHRERBBSO
Win: Alaina Kissinger (9-0) 7.031111
Loss: Rocki Tello (7-1) 7.042220
BattingABRHRBIBBHR
Bianca Van Vlerah (UTT) 411000
Cheyenne Thompson (UTT) 301000
Mel Hinojosa (UTT) 301000
Andrea Gonzales (UTT) 301000
Linzie Lewis (ETBU) 301000
Lacey Lindsey (ETBU) 311101
Morgan Arst (ETBU) 301000

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist || wbloomquist@uttyler.edu

TYLER – The No. 1-ranked UT Tyler softball team will travel to play a three-game series on Wednesday and Thursday against No. 3 East Texas Baptist in a matchup of perennial American Southwest Conference powers at Taylor Field in Marshall.

Weather has affected the series with the Patriots and Tigers now set to play a 4 p.m. doubleheader on Wednesday and the series finale at 5 p.m. on Thursday. The series was originally going to start on Tuesday but that game was postponed due to overnight rain in Marshall. 

The Patriots (15-1, 8-1 ASC) are coming off taking two of three in a series win over Mary Hardin-Baylor last weekend in Tyler, while ETBU (14-0, 9-0 ASC) swept its way through a three-game series against Howard Payne in Marshall. The midweek matchup is scheduled to begin with a 6 p.m. game on Tuesday before a 5 p.m. doubleheader on Wednesday. The Tigers also have ASC series sweeps over UMHB and LeTourneau to currently sit atop the conference standings and are currently 8-0 on their home field. The Patriots will be coming off their first loss of the season after falling 12-8 in the series finale against the Cru and are 8-0 on the road this season. The series features the past six ASC Champions with ETBU winning the tournament last year but the Patriots rebounding to win the regional tournament and then the NCAA Division III National Championship.

UT Tyler head coach Mike Reed enters this week with 589 career wins, including starting his career with 105 wins in three seasons as the ETBU head coach from 2001-03. The Patriots went 2-0 against the Tigers in last year’s regular season with the final game of the series being canceled due to rain. ETBU would take two wins from the Patriots in the ASC tournament before the Patriots earned an 8-6 win in the regional tournament in the fifth matchup of the 2016 season.  

UT Tyler has outscored its opponents by a 150-39 margin and is hitting .434 as a team with 42 doubles, four triples and 13 home runs through 16 games. Kaylee Prather leads the Patriots and the ASC with a .583 batting average and 35 hits to start her senior season. Prather, who is in her second season at UT Tyler after transferring from LSU-Alexandria, is 19-for-29 in the past seven games but had a 15-game hitting streak end with an 0-for-3 series finale against UMHB. Prather also leads the Patriots with 12 stolen bases and three triples and has 15 RBI as the team’s leadoff hitter. Courtney Fisher is coming off a weekend where she went 7-for-10 against the Cru and is hitting .563 with 18 hits this season. A junior transfer from Galveston College, has been in the lineup 10 times as the team’s designated hitter and is currently on a six-game hitting streak and has reached base in 11 straight games. She has recorded six multi-hit performances, while Prather has 12 multi-hit games and Cheyenne Thompson has nine.

A junior from Mexia, Thompson leads the Patriots with 25 RBI, seven multi-RBI games and has a .482 batting average with 27 hits this season. She is currently tied for the team lead with KK Stevens with four home runs each and has also produced six doubles. Thompson hit her fourth homer of the season on Saturday against the Cru and finished the three-game series with four RBI. Stevens enters the rivalry series against ETBU hitting .408 this season and is second on the team with 18 RBI. A senior from Plano, Stevens has started 170 games at catcher for the Patriots and has 22 home runs and 126 RBI in her career. She is currently fifth in program history with her 170 starts, 39 doubles and 22 homers and is second with a .998 fielding percentage with only two errors and 872 putouts behind the plate. Lexi Ackroyd has also started all 16 games this year and has made 115 career starts. She is the team’s left fielder and is hitting .378 this season with 14 hits and nine RBI. A Frisco native, Ackroyd is 14-for-14 on stolen bases during her career and has 80 RBI in 144 games played for the Patriots.

Bianca Van Vlerah has started all 16 games at second base and is hitting .451 with 23 hits and 15 RBI. A senior who started her career at Kilgore College, Van Vlerah hit her first home run two weeks ago at LeTourneau and is coming off a 6-for-10 weekend against UMHB. Mel Hinojosa has started the 16 games at third base and is hitting .447 with 21 hits and 14 RBI, while Andrea Gonzales has started 16 games at first base and is hitting .413 with six doubles and 12 RBI.  A senior from Houston, Hinojosa leads the team with seven doubles. She hit her first home run of the season on Saturday as did Hannah Moore who hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth to lift the Patriots to a 12-10 win. A junior from Cy Fair, Moore’s homer was her third hit of the season and came in her first start at shortstop this season. Natalie Romeo has started the other 15 games at short stop and will enter her first ETBU series with a .952 fielding percentage with 24 putouts, 16 assists and only two errors as a freshman.

UT Tyler senior pitcher Alaina Kissinger is 8-0 this season and has a 52-2 career record for the Patriots. Kissinger has 35 strikeouts and has walked only one batter this season through 47 1/3 innings of work. Whitney Romero (6-0) has started nine games and appeared in 11 and has an impressive 0.75 ERA through 36 innings. A Louisiana native, Romero has 33 strikeouts and only five walks while opponents are hitting .180 against her.

ETBU will enter the series against UT Tyler hitting .397 as a team and a 134-45 scoring margin advantage over its 14 opponents. Jayme Perez leads the Tigers with a .531 average and is tied with Linzie Lewis with 26 hits. Perez, a senior from Austin, leads the ASC with six home runs and 27 RBI while Lindsey Vasquez is hitting .512 with 22 total hits. Lewis and Lacey Lindsey have three home runs each, while Gabby Gonzales is second on the team with four home runs and is hitting .410. In the circle, Rocki Tello (7-0) has 23 strikeouts and a 2.05 ERA in eight starts. Perez is 4-0 with one save and Jordan Anderson (3-0) has made two starts and four appearances.

UT Tyler will return to action after its series against ETBU by hosting DePauw in a 9:30 a.m. doubleheader on Sunday at Suddenlink Field.