By Brian Roe, Sports Writer
The Wildcat baseball team will waste no time trying to regain its 2003 form that led them to the NCAA Division II College World Series. After a disappointing season last year that ended in a loss to Southeastern Oklahoma State, the Wildcats open the 2005 season against the defending NCAA Division II national champion Delta State (Miss.).
The game will be played in Austin at St. Edwards University. ACU and longtime rival Delta State will play Saturday, Feb. 4, at 10 a.m. and the Wildcats will battle against St. Edwards at 2 p.m. the same day. Both games are non-conference doubleheaders.
The Wildcats and the Statesmen of Delta State have met 12 times since 1996. Each team has won six games; however, ACU has won the last two series. The Wildcats eliminated Delta State at the 2003 NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament to win the region and advance to the 2003 Division II College World Series.
The opener against Delta State is just the beginning of a difficult early season schedule for the Wildcats. In its first six games, ACU will compete against three of the four teams that reached last year’s NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament.
“I want to see how we match up against those good teams,” head coach Britt Bonneau said.
Last season was not a complete disappointment as the team produced another winning season, going 30-23. The team’s success in 2003, however, raised the bar for the Wildcat baseball team.
One intriguing difference about the 2005 schedule is that the Lone Star Conference has canceled its post-season tournament because none of the 12 schools in the LSC could agree on a date that would not interfere with final exams. The tournament is expected to be reinstated in 2006 when the NCAA gives an automatic bid to all conference champions and expands the regional tournament from four to six teams.
ACU will play each LSC South Division foe in a four- game series, meaning the total number of division games increases to 20.