Despite having a short time to prepare, the University of Houston-Victoria begins defense of its Red River Athletic Conference regular season title on Friday and Saturday when they take on the Huston-Tillotson Lady Rams in a four-game series in Austin.
Coming off their best finish ever at the Cowtown Classic, where the 18th-ranked Jaguars went 4-1, the Jags turn around to open RRAC play against the Lady Rams (2-1) with a pair of 2 p.m. doubleheaders on Friday and Saturday.
The Jaguars won the RRAC regular season title last year with a 25-3 record and eventually advanced to the NAIA Opening Round tournament in Oklahoma City where they lost in the title game.
The early success was also special for UHV head coach Lindsey Ortiz who collected her 100th-career victory at the tournament when the Jaguars defeated 20th-ranked Central Methodist 1-0 in their second game of the tournament. In her fourth season as head coach, Ortiz has compiled a 102-48 mark going into Friday's games.
The Jaguars have dominated the series with the Lady Rams with a 20-1 record since beginning the series in 2010. The Jaguars have won 14 straight over the Lady Rams since suffering their lone loss, a 4-3 decision, in the final game of a doubleheader in 2011.
Last year the Jaguars swept the series 4-0, 8-0, 9-3 and 7-0 and have recorded 10 shutouts in their 20 wins.
Pitching seemed to be the key for the Jaguars in the season-opening tournament as all four returnees saw action and posted a combined 1.51 ERA over the five games.
Senior Haley Beam (SR/Pearland, Texas) tossed a one-hit shutout against Central Methodist in her first start and then left in her second start with a no-hitter and having retired 12 straight batters after a leadoff walk, in her second start against Texas Wesleyan. Beam and senior Savannah Crittenden (SR/LaPorte, TX) each posted two wins in the tournament. Sophomores Michelle Revels (SO/Corpus Christi, TX) and Torey Dumont (SO/Pleasanton, TX) also saw action in the circle, each with one start.
They also led the offensive attack as Crittenden compiled a .353 batting average, while Beam hit at a .333 clip. Both players drove in three runs and combined for 11 of the Jaguars' 29 hits.
The Lady Rams come into the contest supporting a 2-1 record after splitting a doubleheader with Schreiner University and capturing an extra-inning win over Howard Payne. The Lady Rams opened the season with a 6-4 win over Schreiner and then dropped the nightcap 9-1. HTU then grabbed a 12-10 win in nine innings over Howard Payne.
Offense appeared to carry the Rams in the three games as the team compiled a .364 batting average with six doubles and a home run as six players batted over .400 in the three games.
Audrey Aguirre led the way with a .556 average, while Sarah Rodriguez followed with a .500 average. They were followed by Mercedes Hatheway (.462), Victoria De leon (.417), Zoe Castillo (.400) and Meranda Rodriguez (.400).
Following the RRAC opener, the Jaguars will return home for their home debut on Tuesday with a 2 p.m. doubleheader against Schreiner at the Victoria Youth Sports Complex.