By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
The undefeated baseball team swept past its first two opponents of 2007, but Saturday it will face the team that ended the Wildcats’ season in 2006: regional opponent Southern Arkansas.
Southern Arkansas eliminated the Wildcats’ at the South Central Region Tournament after defeating ACU 5-4.
“It is the team that knocked us out of the regional tournament last year,” head coach Britt Bonneau said. “Hopefully our guys have remembered that.”
The 4-0, No. 16 ranked Wildcats will travel to Magnolia, Ark., to take on 1-3 Southern Arkansas in a three-game series on Saturday and Sunday.
Bonneau is mindful of the advantages of playing a postseason caliber team early has on the rest of the season.
“Playing good competition and playing on the road will make us that much more ready for later on in the year,” Bonneau said.
Because of the two teams’ winning history, Bonneau said he is confident that the upcoming series with Southern Arkansas could hold postseason foreshadowing.
“You got to remember that this is a team that played in the regional tournament,” Bonneau said. “We could see them down the road again.”
And that is what’s most important for Bonneau, getting prepared for what’s down the road.
“Every team we play all year, we do that so it will help us come regional time,” Bonneau said.
ACU has already helped its regional destiny by defeating two regional opponents this season, including an 8-0 win over St. Mary’s on Tuesday.
Pitcher Ben Maynard pitched a complete game, five-hit shutout to pick up his 24th win as an ACU starter.
This weekend the starting pitchers most likely will be right-handers Brian Kennedy, Chris Wiman and Trey Watten; all of who already have one victory under each of their belts.
All three have helped hold ACU’s opponents to only 10 runs in the four games the Wildcats have already played.
Wiman, who ended last season 10-4 last season with a 4.03 ERA and 88 strikeouts, said he’s glad he’s on the mound for ACU and not for Southern Arkansas.
“We’re the type of team I hate pitching against,” Wiman said. “Every single guy in the lineup keeps fighting till the end.”
One of such fighter is second baseman J.J. Pacheco. Pacheco has the most at bats out of the Wildcat lineup and holds a solid .444 batting average and a team-leading four doubles.
Pacheco, a transfer from Chabot College, has wasted little time finding his spot on the Wildcats team and finds his unfamiliarity with the Wildcats as a motivator to win.
“Nameless faces, nameless team – I don’t care who we play.” Pacheco said.