The Wildcat baseball team has a four game series this weekend against Arkansas Tech University at Crutcher Scott Field.
The season opener begins on Friday, Feb. 3 at 4:05 p.m. First pitch of the second game is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4. Designated hitters will be used in the second game. The series ends on Sunday, Feb. 5. Game time is 1:35 p.m.
The ‘Cats are attempting to have a better showing than their ’11 campaign. A 24-23 record in the regular season (16-17 in the Lone Star Conference) cut the team’s playoff and Lone Star Conference Tournament chances short. Key injuries throughout the season also hindered the team.
“Last year we went through some hard times with injuries,” said head coach Britt Bonneau. “We tried to build a team this year with some depth so that we wouldn’t run into that issue…this team is constructed to rebuild our program.”
“Right now we want to get some wins under our belt,” said Bonneau. “There is still a bad taste in our mouth left from last year.”
Senior infielder Duncan Blades feels the team has improved compared to last season.
“I think we are going to have a good season,” said Blades. “We have great hitting and better defense than we showed last year. All our guys are back from injuries too.”
Arkansas Tech is a Division II school in the Great American Conference. Last year, the Wonder Boys posted an overall record of 32-19 and advanced to the final day of the Gulf South Conference Tournament after placing fourth in the GSC’s West Division (13-6).
Bonneau is impressed with the way Arkansas Tech has established itself as a team.
“Arkansas Tech is a team that has performed at a high level,” said Bonneau. “Their averaging over 35 wins a year for the past two years. They have a good staff and are new to our region.”
“I haven’t played them before,” Blades said. “But we have studied their pitchers and hitters, hopefully we can take advantage of that.”
Arkansas had a team batting average of .343 in ’11. Their pitchers had an earned run average of 5.64. The player with the highest batting average was Matt Johnson (.454), however he was drafted by Major League Baseball in the 23 round.
The Wildcats hit .326 and struggled to pitch well, posting a 7.25 ERA. Will Calhoun was the team leader in batting avgerage (431). Calhoun, similar to Johnson for the Wonder Boys, is no longer apart of the ACU squad.
Bonneau’s goal for this weekend deals with pitching.
“Our main goal is to see where our pitchers are,” Bonneau said. “You’re never in playoff shape the first weekend, so the question becomes how far can our starters go in a game?”
Game one starter will be junior Oklahoma transfer Clint Cooper. For game two senior Aaron Lambrix will take the mound. Lambrix was hurt a season ago and didn’t pitch.
Game three of the series will be started by Jordan Herrera. Finally, junior southpaw Austin Palmer will get the nod for Sunday’s game.
“Winning this first series is my goal,” said Blades. “Anything I can do to help the team win is what I’ll strive for.”