By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
After beating East Central University with ease in its first Lone Star Conference Crossover series, head baseball coach Britt Bonneau isn’t expecting this weekend’s series against Northeastern Oklahoma State to be quite as easy.
“I wouldn’t expect anything to be given to us,” Bonneau said. “We’ve got to earn everything.”
No. 11 ACU, who moved up seven spots after outscoring East Central 58-5 in four games on Feb. 16 and 17, will play Northeastern Oklahoma State in Talequah, Okla., Saturday in the Wildcats first LSC crossover four-game series on the road.
“This series is just another road test for us,” Bonneau said – a test Bonneau said is essential to his team’s success this season.
“I know from the past you got to learn how to adapt on the road,” Bonneau said.
ACU is 2-2 on the road with both losses being against Southern Arkansas on Feb. 10 and Feb. 11.
For catcher Jordan Schmitt, playing well on the road requires blocking out all distractions of the road before the series starts.
“You got to block out everything else and just focus on what you have to do,” Schmitt said.
Northeastern State, who ACU swept last season, is 2-0 at home and 5-2 overall after winning three of four games against LSC South opponent Eastern New Mexico. The last time ACU played Northeastern on the road in 2005, ACU split the series with the Redmen.
ACU has been consistent at the plate with seven players hitting a batting average above the impressive .394 team average. Three of the most averages have been designated hitter Matt McGuire (.522), shortstop and utility player Willy Uechi (.512) and third baseman Alec Sowards (.463).
“We got to control what we can control when we play on the road,” Bonneau said.
On the mound, ACU holds .252 team ERA and four of its starting pitchers are undefeated at 2-0.
One such pitcher is senior Ben Maynard who has been lights out for the Wildcats.
Maynard, who hasn’t started since pitching against Incarnate Word on Feb. 13, will start Saturday with a .60 ERA.
“He’ll [Maynard] be fresh,” Bonneau said.
Schmitt said he is confident ACU’s starters’ experience will help them get the job done.
“Most of them are upper classmen who have been around,” Schmitt said. “They know how to pitch.”
BASEBALL TEAM STATSThe ACU baseball team is ranked No. 11 nationally and leads the Lone Star Conference in team batting average, slugging percentage, hits, doubles, triples, runs scored, runs batted in and total bases.
Team batting average .394
Team slugging percentage .561
Total hits 157
Total RBI 104