By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
After earning a No. 4 preseason ranking from Collegiate Baseball magazine, ACU has stepped up one spot to rank third in the nation.
Senior third baseman and pitcher Brad Massey, who is hitting .349 this season with 11 RBI and a 2-0 record, said the Wildcats are not satisfied with the young season.
“To be honest, none of us feel like we have played our best,” Massey said. “We feel fortunate to be ranked third in the nation.”
The Wildcats, now 10-2 overall and 3-0 in the Lone Star Conference South, head to West Texas A&M for a three-game series.
Coach Britt Bonneau said playing the Buffaloes last season would help with this year.
“They have a big left-handed pitcher (senior Will Baldwin) and a couple of right-handers who throw good off-speed pitches,” said Bonneau, whose Wildcats took four of five games against WTAM last season. “We have to play our best game.”
Massey said the emergence of Luis Munoz and Marcelino Escalante is key to team success later in the season.
“They know what it is going to take to get to the next step,” Massey said. “They’re both working really hard to hit a little more at practice. They need to take advantage of the opportunity when they get it.”
This week is also a time of individual achievement, as sophomore Ryan Barker was named LSC South Division Hitter of the Week after hitting .363 with four runs scored, two home runs and seven RBI against Eastern New Mexico last week. Barker leads the team and LSC with 15 RBI.
Bonneau said he has been impressed with Barker so far.
“He handles the bat well at the plate,” Bonneau said. “He’s still young and has a way to go as far as learning the game, but he’s still learning from the older guys. He’s a great ball player.”
Starting for ACU in the first game Friday will be freshman right-hander Kristian Bell (2-0, 4.76 ERA), while junior left-hander Sam Hall (1-1, 1.89 ERA) will start the second game, which is scheduled for nine innings. Redshirt freshman right-hander Ben Brockman (0-1, 5.19 ERA) will start Saturday’s nine-inning game.