Friday, April 13, 2012

LSC Baseball and Softball Weekend Series Previews

Baseball Matchups
#1 Angelo State (27-11, 11-5) at #7 Tarleton State (15-16, 7-9) - The Rams continue to cruise through a superb season, having won 5 straight LSC games and splitting series with TAMK and WTAM on the road earlier.  The Texans started the LSC race 5-1, but have struggled since then and went 1-7 against WTAM and TAMK.

#4 ACU (20-17, 8-8) at #6 Cameron (18-19, 7-9) - Just one game separates four teams vying for the 4, 5, and 6 spots in the LSC.  ACU has been inconsistent this year, starting the season 9-3, but just 11-14 since then.  However, they split their series with TAMK and WTAM (at home) but could only must splits on the road at UIW and ENMU. Cameron has been a streaky team with three different 4 game winning streaks, and an 8 game and 4 game losing streaks. They also split with TAMK, but were swept by WTAM.  On the other hand, they swept ENMU, while ACU could only muster a split.  Anything could happen in this series.

#5 Incarnate Word (13-15, 8-8) at #8 Eastern New Mexico (12-22, 2-14) - The Cardinals have just not gotten anything going this year.  The preseason LSC favorites have won one series, split two and lost one (and still have TAMK and WTAM after this series).  They need a sweep to position themselves for the LSC tournament.  ENMU has been swept in three of their four series, but at home against ACU, they pounded the ball, scoring 47 runs, but giving up 45.

Top Matchup
#2 Texas A&M-Kingsville (22-9, 10-6) at #3 West Texas A&M (24-10, 11-5) 
Last week's split with Cameron at home was a bit of a surprise, especially with the Javelinas coming in with a 6 game winning streak.  WTAM could only muster a split as well, but it was on the road at ACU, so it wasn't as big of a surprise.  In their biggest LSC matchups so far, both teams split with Angelo State at home.

The teams come into the series a contrast of styles.  TAMK is the top pitching team in the LSC, sporting a 2.70 ERA (7th in the nation) and more than a full run better than Angelo State, 2nd in the LSC.  At the top of the rotation, Jaden Dillon (6-0, 1.23) and Adam Aspaas (6-1, 1.60) have been hard to get to.  The bullpen, featuring Cameron Dullnig (1-1, 7 saves, 0.00 ERA), Cole Foster (2-0, 1.69), Jeremy Flores (1-0, 2.70), Taylor Taska (0-0, 3.00) and Denver Diefenbach (1-0, 3.20) has been spot on most of the year.  WT's staff has the 5th best ERA in the LSC, 5.10.  Billy Gonzalez (5-0, 2.36), Ryan Houston (3-2, 3.25), Justin Kuks (6-0, 3.59) and Carlos Maese (3-0, 3 saves, 0.00) have been the top arms.  However five pitchers with 16+ innings pitched have ERAs between 6.08 and 10.45.

There is an even bigger gap between the teams offensively.  WT leads the LSC with a .352 batting average (ENMU is second at .328) third best in the nation, 288 runs scored (ASU is next 43 runs back) seventh best per game in the nation, 25 HRs and a .537 slugging percentage (2nd best in nation).  TAMK meanwhile checks in at .270, with 167 runs, 10 HRs and a .361 slugging average.  They do run a lot, stealing 70 bases in 92 attempts.  Nine Buffs (Justin Henderson .394, Kendall Boone .369, Javis Smith .368, Jordan Easom, .368, Nick Marquez .365, Patrick Ramirez .359, Eric Dorton .352, Jess Cooper .350, and Parker Wood .324)  have 60+ at bats, and all them have at least a .324 average. Seven different players have 22+ runs scored and nine have 20+ RBIs.  Simply put, there is no hole in the lineup, no easy out.  There are just three Javelinas with a .300 average (Jake Mendiola .351, Cameron Dullnig .333, and James Black .310) and just two with 20 runs scored and two with 20 RBIs.  They have been warming up, scoring 68 runs in their last 9 games, hitting .469 and slugging at a .612 clip over that period.

Softball Matchups
#4 West Texas A&M (27-15, 11-9) at #8 Cameron (15-26, 6-14) - Cameron trying to hang on to 8th place, while the Lady Buffs need to improve on their ninth place regional ranking.
#6 Incarnate Word (22-17, 9-11) at #3 Texas Woman's (30-13, 12-7) - Despite getting swept at ASU last weekend, TWU currently occupies the #8 spot in the South Central regional poll, so every game is big for them.  UIW will likely have to win the LSC tournament to make the NCAA tournament, and they enjoy a 4 game cushion to make that field.

#10 Eastern New Mexico (4-16, 12-30) at #2 Abilene Christian (26-11, 12-7) - ENMU sweep of TAMK last weekend highlight of season, ACU is has post season aspirations, and their #4 regional ranking requires them to keep the pedal to the floor

#7 Midwestern State (20-20, 10-10) at #9 Texas A&M-Kingsville (17-25, 5-5) - MSU getting hot at right time, have won 6 straight, TAMK heading the other way, dropping 4 of last 5 needs a big weekend for a shot at LSC tourney

Top Matchup
#1 Angelo State (35-8, 16-4) at #5 Tarleton State (29-14, 14-6)  
The Rambelles are the top team in the South Central Regional poll released this week, so they cannot afford any let up if they want to host the regional tournament.  On the other hand, the Texanns are #6 in the same poll, so they need to keep winning at a high rate to ensure that they stay in the top eight (or possibly higher in case of any underdots winning conference tournaments.

These have been two of the top pitching staffs in the LSC this year, with Tarleton sporting a 2.70 ERA, while Angelo State is right behind at 2.75.  Both teams have potent duos in the circle - Samantha Swanda (15-6, 2.40) and Randi Fentress (14-4. 3.00) for the Texanns and Mary Kate McKay (17-4, 2.39) and Claire Molina (18-4, 2.76) for the Rambelles.

Offensively, however, Angelo State enjoys a distinct advantage.  They lead the LSC with a .344 batting average (TSU is next to last at .286) and scoring with 318 runs (TSU has 240).  Tarleton does lead the LSC with 58 HRs, but ASU is right behind with 53.  ASU's Elsamartina Apo (.466) and Kacie Easley (.451) lead the conference in individual batting average, while TSU's Samantha Swanda and Arianna Rodriguez each have 15 HRs to pace the conference (ASU's DeeshanaLynn Tafiti is right behind with 14).

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Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico