Entering his tenth year as the Texas State baseball coach, Ty Harrington will lead Bobcats to their 2009 season Friday when at the Texas-Arlington/Hilton Invitational.
The Bobcats finished 30-27 last year, hitting well enough to go a long way and pitching poorly enough to go nowhere.
Texas State will open the 16th annual Arlington event against Arkansas State at 11 a.m., followed by a 3 p.m. contest with UT Arlington on Saturday. The Bobcats will wrap up the opening weekend with back-to-back tilts against Arkansas State and Siena, beginning at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Bobcats will be fueled at the plate by returning five members from last year’s No. 1 offensive team in the Southland Conference. Paul Goldschmidt (.360), Lance Loftin (.354), Adam Witek (.342) Ben Theriot (.339) and Laurn Randell (.338) will each contribute at the plate.
On the mound, Michael Russo will make his Bobcat debut after transferring from Lon Morris College. Zach Tritz (9-4, 4.22 ERA) and Kane Holbrooks (2-5, 7.45) are slated to make starting appearances, as well, through the weekend.
Friday’s opener will mark the second meeting with ASU after a Feb. 19, 2000, victory in the Dallas Baptist Tournament. Harrington had just inherited the program and led the Bobcats to an 11-8 victory over the Red Wolves.
Arkansas State enters the tournament after a weak 2008 season, finishing 20-34-1 overall and last in the Sun Belt with an 8-21-1record. However, the Red Wolves are sporting a new head coach in 15-year Mississippi State assistant Tommy Raffo and veteran arm Chase Ware.
Ware, a preseason All-Sun Belt right hander, is scheduled to start on the mound against Texas State Friday morning.
Texas State leads the all-time series with UTA, 41-31, including a record-setting 22-2 win over the foe in the first round of 2008 Southland Conference Tournament. Last season, Texas State owned a 3-1 record over the Mavs.
The Mavericks, picked to finish sixth in this year’s Southland Conference preseason polls, return from a 26-31 finish in 2008 with 27 lettermen and six newcomers. Highlighting the returners is sophomore Michael Choice, who was named to the All-Conference First Team, Baseball America’s First-Team and the 2009 Presason Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List.
Sunday afternoon will be the first meeting between Texas State and Siena. The Saints return from a 30-26 overall record in 2008. Slated to take the mound against Texas State is right-handed pitcher Zach Hartman, who led the team last season as a freshman with an 8-1 record and a 4.74 ERA.
The UTA/Hilton Invitational began in 1994 and has included 24 different programs. The Bobcats and Siena their first appearances this season, while Arkansas State makes its seventh trip to Arlington. The Red Wolves claimed the title in 2005, but tournament host UTA holds the most titles with six (1994, 1996, 199, 2001, 2002 and 2006).