By Joshua Parrott, Sports Writer
Tuesday was a day of firsts for ACU junior right-hander Aaron Lawler.
Lawler, who normally pitches in relief, started his first game of the season in the opening game of Tuesday’s doubleheader at East Central (Okla.), where the Wildcats split the series with the Tigers.
He picked up his sixth win of the season in a 4-1 victory, scattering four hits over five innings and gave up only his fifth earned run this season. He did all this after giving up two hits and an earned run in the first inning. The Wildcats dropped the second game 3-1.
Lawler said the weather in Ada, Okla., was a factor in his first-inning struggles.
“We hit a lot of balls hard, but the wind just wasn’t in our favor,” said Lawler, whose 1.55 ERA would rank him second in the Lone Star Conference if he averaged at least an inning in each of the Wildcat’s 33 games. “I was trying to get settled in since it was my first start of the season. I got in and relaxed and felt confident the rest of the way.”
The Wildcats, 23-10 overall and 9-5 in LSC South play, now head to Stephenville to take on the Texans of Tarleton State. The Texans, 17-20 overall, have lost five of their previous six games, yet are second in the LSC South at 8-4.
Lawler said expectations of the three-game series against the Texans are not a mystery to the Wildcats, who lost two of three at the hands of Tarelton nearly three weeks ago.
“Every time we come out and play Tarleton we expect them to come out and play tough,” Lawler said. “Against us they’ll be playing their best. We know what we’re up against. We just need to come out hitting the ball and put that together with our defense and pitching.”
Senior second baseman Luis Munoz enjoyed an offensive explosion last week, hitting .556 (10 of 18), including a double, triple and home run as well as scoring eight runs and six RBI as the Wildcats won four of five games. The torrid stretch earned Munoz, who is hitting .338 this season, LSC South Division Hitter-of-the-Week honors.
Munoz said his senior season has been an up-and-down experience for him.
“It’s been a roller coaster,” said Munoz, who raised his batting average 60 points over last week’s five-game stretch. “I was slumping at the beginning of the season, but Coach [Britt] Bonneau noticed what I was doing wrong and took the extra time to help me.”
Munoz said Bonneau convinced him to put his bat on his shoulder, open his batting stance and keep his hands back while at the plate.
The experience has humbled Munoz, who was an all-LSC pick last season.
“It just opened my eyes and helped show me I can be a better hitter,” Munoz said.
He said the key to Friday and Saturday’s games against the Texans will be at the plate.
“The thing that got us last time was our hitting,” Munoz said. “If we hit the ball we’re going to win the game. We just have to pitch well.”
Which is exactly what Lawler did on Tuesday.