The Wildcat baseball team will look to win its third consecutive Lone Star Conference crown this season. Head Coach Britt Bonneau and his players have been picked as the favorites to win the LSC for the 13th consecutive year.
ACU finished last season with a 50-15 record setting a school record for most wins in a season. The landmark season included both the LSC regular season and post-season titles and an invite to the NCAA South-Central Regional Tournament in Warrensburg, Mo. for the 10th time in 12 years.
In 2011 ACU has been billed as one of the nation’s top teams in Div. II heading into their first game as the No. 6 team in the country. Along with the high national ranking comes the No. 1 billing in the conference. The Wildcats were an almost unanimous pick to win the LSC once again garnering 29 of 31 first place votes and 401 points over all.
“It’s an honor to be picked at the top,” said senior pitcher Will Calhoun. “But with that comes more pressure when people pick you to win. I’m not worried about it though with this group of guys.”
This year’s schedule within the LSC is different than years past with the addition of Incarnate Word. With 13 teams now in the LSC competing in baseball, ACU will play each team one time in a three-game series with two nine-inning games and one seven-inning game.
The Wildcats will waste no time getting into the meat of their schedule facing three of the nation’s top-40 teams in their first three series. Along with the game against No. 18 St. Mary’s yesterday, the Wildcats will face No. 22 Incarnate Word this weekend and No. 32 Delta State early next week.
“We play these tough games in February to get ready for April to gear up for the conference tournament in May,” said Bonneau.
Leading ACU this season will be a combination of players including the LSC Pre-Season Player of the Year Aaron Oliver. Oliver was named the LSC Tournament MVP in 2010 after completing one of the most impressive seasons in Wildcat history. Oliver hit .405 on the year with 14 home runs and 65 RBI to go along with a team leading 27 stolen bases.
Other big name returning players include RHP/OF Calhoun, 3B Cameron Watten, and LHP Chay Lytle.
The Wildcats were scheduled to begin their season yesterday, but the game has been rescheduled for March 1 because of the possibility of inclement weather.
“It’s actually more exciting for us I think,” said Calhoun. ” Now we get to have our first game at home.”