The Roadrunners travel to Denton for a three-game series in North Texas

SAINT ANTONIO – Looking to pick up their second Conference USA series win in as many tries, the UTSA softball team (6-19, 2-1 C-USA) will travel north on I-35 to take a three-game set against the defending the North Texas League champion (16-9, 2-1 C-USA) at Lovelace Stadium. The Mean Green and Roadrunners will meet for the 39th time on Friday to start the three-day series. All three contests are scheduled to air on ESPN+.

About UTSA

The Roadrunners opened Conference USA hot with a 2-1 home win over UTEP, racking up 23 hits and 12 walks to score 20 runs in the first two games. The series finale turned out to be a hard-fought seventh-inning UTSA at-bat for all the balls – bases loaded, two outs, a full count and a robbed out by UTEP’s outstanding grab at the center field fence to give the Miners a 4-3 win.

On Tuesday, UTSA traveled to Tarleton and used some reserves, taking a 4-3 loss in Stephenville, Texas.

UTSA averaged 4.7 runs per game and averaged 7.1 hits and 4.8 RBIs – hitting .259 as a team. It’s been a tight season so far, and a few games in the opposite direction could completely turn the record around. The Roadrunners have tacked on 12 one-run contests with five more decided by two runs, with 14 near-close losses in the set.

Working with the extra base numbers, UTSA ranks fourth in Conference USA in doubles (33) and home runs (18), while fifth in triples (2). They lead the conference by a significant margin and lead the nation in walks drawn with 120. The Roadrunners hold a team hitting percentage of .371.

This season’s Most Consistent Player should come as no surprise, as the preseason All-Conference USA shortstop Kat Ibarra paced the team with a .360 average after a first-team all-conference nod last year. Ybarra leads UTSA in hits (31), doubles (8), triples (2), walks (15) and shares the team lead in runs (19) – registering 10 RBIs from the leadoff spot thanks to a second-best .455 base rate. In 86 at-bats this year, she has struck out just 11 times. She is currently on a six-game hitting streak and had previously reached base in 19 consecutive games (dating back to last season) before her streak ended on Feb. 25 against Kansas. In total, she registered a goal in 20 games this season, including seven multi-hit games.

In addition, Ibarra is also a nuisance for opponents on defense, leading the Roadrunners with 42 assists (with 48 putouts), seven double plays and has delivered the tag on six steals.

Also a member of the preseason Conference USA team as an assistant, Sr Marena Estelle was also an important offensive component for the Roadrunners, hitting .333 with a team-leading 17 RBI. Despite the lack of action in the first five games, Estelle has four (4) doubles, two (2) home runs, 19 hits and 10 RBIs. Her .423 on-base percentage also put her in position to score nine (9) runs.

One of the top contenders in the tough tournament, a two-time JUCO national champion transfer Taylor Jensen split time between catcher and first base, hitting .306 with 12 RBI and eight (8) runs, hitting three (3) home runs and two (2) doubles among his 22 hits – the second-highest total on the team. She also caught 6 of 11 steal attempts against her. Currently riding a five-game hitting streak, she has six (6) multi-hit games, hitting in 15 of 21 games this season.

Overcoming slow start in opening weekend, sophomore third baseman Camryn Robillard has hits in 16 of last 20 games and is on a team-best seven-game hitting streak hitting .250 with 12 runs, 10 RBIs, four (4) doubles and (2) home runs. Despite the loss, Robillard scored all three runs in UTEP’s finale after collecting a hit and two RBIs.

In the circle, Estell has been an important and experienced asset of late, making six relief appearances and posting a 4.06 ERA over 41.1 innings on the season, holding a 2-4 record. rookie Reagan Smith quickly became the Roadrunners’ most used pitcher, recording 17 appearances with seven (7) starts, pacing UTSA with a 3-7 record and 3.62 ERA in 56 innings. The leading score goes to the junior Jamie Gilbert 33 in 48 innings, holding a 1-5 record and 5.98 ERA while tied for the most appearances with Smith at 17.

Series vs. North Texas
The Roadrunners are 13-25 in the series against the Mean Green, last going 1-2 against UNT last season. UTSA is 3-12 against UNT in its last 15 games and is looking to snap a seven-game sweep in Denton. The series dates back to 2005.

Overall, the 2022 Roadrunners finished 18-30 (11-12 C-USA), while the Mean Green were 37-16 (17-7 C-USA), winning the C-USA Championships with a 9-0 regulation victory over Western Kentucky. reaching the NCAA regional final at Oklahoma State.

UTSA in the rankings
The Roadrunners regained ownership of the national lead in walks, racking up 120 on the year after falling to third in a blowout game at the Blues City Classic. UTSA remains in the NCAA’s top tier for doubles, ranking 56th nationally with 33 doubles and 82nd with 1.32 doubles per game. UTSA is also 76th in home runs per game (0.72), 74th in on-base percentage (.371) and 96th in runs scored.

Defensively, the Roadrunners are 47th in the NCAA with 0.40 double plays per game, recording 10 on the year. UTSA’s fielding percentage of .970 also ranks 64th nationally and third in C-USA.

Nationally, Ibarra ranks 27th in doubles (8) and 92nd in doubles (0.32), part of her 55th-ranked 31 hits. Estell’s team-high three (3) sacrifice flies are tied for 19th nationally.

New faces in the workplace
The Roadrunners have launched four newcomers to the regular position since the start of the season, with Jensen being joined by a transfer second baseman Sammy Dees and freshmen Madison Lenton and Lily Hood as steady starters in the outfield. Hood has started all 25 and Lenton has played in 24. In addition, the Roadrunners have six underclassmen among the 12 most frequent players in the lineup. Similarly, Smith is only a freshman among pitchers, leading the team in innings pitched in an even number of appearances.

For North Texas Mean Green
At 16-9 on the year, UNT is on a three-game winning streak after sweeping a doubleheader with Texas A&M-Commerce on Tuesday. UNT won the road league series over Louisiana Tech last weekend, closing out a one-run finale. The Mean Green have had plenty of success against strong fields in Atlanta, the Tracy Beard Classic and hosting the North Texas Invitational. The Mean Green have already seen two top 10 opponents in ninth-ranked Texas and sixth-ranked Arkansas.

UNT is averaging 4.7 runs and 7.0 hits on a team-high .269 average. They lead the conference with 31 home runs on the year with a 22nd ranked 1.24 HR per game, but are tied for eighth with just 28 doubles. UNT is third among C-USA teams with 113 RBI. The Mean Green have seen some defensive struggles of late, ranking last in the conference with a .953 fielding percentage thanks to 34 errors in 25 games.

Sophomore left fielder Riley Nicholson leads the offensive average at .340, collecting 10 runs and seven (7) RBIs, but it’s Kaylee Gamble who is the 2022 First Team USA first baseman with the most breakout hitting .328 with C -US-high 11 home runs and second-most 26 RBI, also scoring 17 runs. Sophomore Kalei Christianson is also hitting .333 with 14 RBI and 11 runs.

The pitching staff has been at the heart of UNT’s early success, posting a 2.08 staff ERA that ranks second in C-USA and 35th nationally. Senior Ashley Peters and junior Mackenzie Wagoner lead the way with 1.27 and 1.30 ERAs, respectively. Peters has a 5-4 record in 13 appearances (10 starts), holding opponents to a .204 average in 49.2 innings and striking out 40. Wagoner holds a 6-1 record, making eight (8) 15 relief appearances and saving opposing hitters to a .163 batting average while striking out 51 batters in 54 innings. Sophomore Skylar Savage is also pitching to a 3.25 ERA with a 4-2 record in 13 appearances.

For the Mean Green, Rodney DeLong is 145-61 (.704) in his fifth season at UNT – 290-141-1 (.672) overall.

Coverage of the UTSA series in North Texas
Friday, March 17 – 6:00 p.m
Stream: ESPN+ ($)
Live Stats: UNT

Saturday, March 18 – 1:00 p.m
Stream: ESPN+ ($)
Live Stats: UNT

Sunday, March 19 – 12:00 p.m
Stream: ESPN+ ($)
Live Stats: UNT

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