By Daniel Johnson, Sports Editor
After splitting a series with defending Lone Star Conference champions Central Oklahoma, sweeping Tarleton State and nearly winning its series against defending LSC South champs Angelo State, ACU may have already seen the best its conference has to offer.
But if the nationally ranked Wildcats want to continue its way to its tenth straight playoff appearance, it won’t be the opposing teams keeping it out of the postseason.
“Our toughest enemy right now is ourselves,” said head coach Britt Bonneau.
The ACU baseball team will continue divisional play this weekend in its first LSC South road series against Texas A&M-Kingsville Javelinas.
ACU will head to Kingsville with a first place divisional record of 6-2 and No. 12 national ranking; and for Bonneau the series is theirs to lose.
“This time of the year every weekend is a big weekend,” Bonneau said. “It’s just a matter of us playing our game in a different environment.”
ACU has continued to be the best in the LSC, leading in team batting average (.367), ERA (4.48) and RBI (323). Wildcat starting pitcher Trey Watten is the only starter in the LSC that has not lost a game and survived two pitching duels his last two starts.
“Its only because [Watten] was in the game that we were able to pull something out,” Bonneau said.
Watten, who also starts at shortstop and never pitched before this season, has an opposing batting average of .232 and is fifth in the LSC in strikeouts with 49.
In addition to one of the conference’s best starters, ACU has one of the nation’s best closer in right-hander Jameson Maj.
In his first season at ACU, Maj already holds the career and single-season records for saves (10) and has made more appearances (24) than any other pitcher in the league. Maj also is fifth in the nation in Division II baseball for saves and has five wins on top of his saves.
At the plate, centerfielder Matt Spotanski has been the most consistent hitter for the Wildcats, with a team-leading 63 hits and eight triples.
“I try not to think; I just go up and hit,” Spontaski said.
Spotanski’s eight triples broke the single-season record for ACU set by Brain Runnels in 1995 and the eighth in the nation for triples per game.
Seven of ACU’s 10 losses have been on the road, but ACU has won the last two meetings between the Javelinas.
Kingsville, who is tied for second in the LSC South with Angelo, is coming off of a series loss to Tarleton State, and ACU is looking for its first series win on the road since March 13 against Southeastern Oklahoma State.
ACU leads the series against Kingsville overall at 37-30 and won the last two series between the two in 2005 and 2006.
ACU will play a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. Friday in Kingsville and will finish the series with a doubleheader Saturday at noon.