By Daniel Johnson, Sports Writer
The No. 4 Wildcats have secured a spot in the LSC tournament with their 11-5 conference record and are in first place in the Southern Central Division II region, but that doesn’t mean their final series against West Texas A&M this weekend holds no importance.
If the Wildcats want to win the Southern Division of the LSC, they will need to sweep the West Texas A&M Buffalos and hope Tarleton State takes at least one game from conference-leading Angelo State. A Wildcat sweep will not come easily though, as the Buffalos will be looking for at least one win to secure a spot of their own in the conference tournament. They also are coming off last weekend’s sweep of Tarleton.
“One of our goals, besides making it to regional and eventually the College World Series, is to win the South Division of the LSC,” said assistant coach Brandon Stover. “Although securing a spot should relax the guys, we’re still interested in winning the South, so we need to play well this weekend to win three or four games.”
Playing well is something the Wildcats have had no problem doing, as seen through their 12-0 blowout of regional opponent Incarnate Word on Tuesday.
Wildcat third baseman Alec Sowards led the Wildcats with three hits in the win, and senior pitcher Brandon Moore denied Incarnate any opportunity of a comeback. Moore was awarded the shutout victory after only allowing five hits, one walk and striking out eight batters in seven innings. Moore also started in ACU’s first win over Incarnate Word in February and was due for an exceptional starting performance after a surprisingly tame showing earlier in the season.
“Moore had a slow start this year, but he pitched a great game on Tuesday, and now we can look to him as a starter or reliever in the upcoming tournaments,” said pitching coach Coy Polk.
Polk said that now Moore has found his rhythm, he will give the Wildcats more flexibility when choosing who to start in the remaining games. Moore’s late bloom is reminiscent of last year when he pitched his best games late in the season. Polk will look to get Moore and the rest of the bullpen as much experience as possible this weekend against the Buffalos in preparation for the conference tournament.
Although the win against Incarnate Word had no influence on conference standings, it may play a role in ACU’s chances to qualify for the regional tournament scheduled May 17-20. If the Wildcats do not secure a spot by winning the LSC tournament May 6-9, their future in the regional tournament lies in the hands of the South Central Regional Committee – a committee on which head coach Britt Bonneau sits.
The Wildcats’ first game against West Texas A&M at 4 p.m. Friday at Crutcher Scott Field.