In some sports, maybe, the Southland Conference bid to the NCAA Tournament is a formality. In baseball, it is not.
The Southland Conference baseball tournament begins today at Sam Houston State, which is the defending champion. Last year, Sam Houston used its NCAA entry for winning the Southland and advanced to the NCAA regional championship round before finally stepping aside one rung before the College World Series.
Texas State (29-25 overall, 19-11 SLC) will inaugurate the tournament at 9 a.m. today with its first round game against Texas-Arlington (26-29, 16-14), The Bobcats are in the Southland tournament for the 13th consecutive year as they try to capture the title for the first time since 2000.
As the statistics and Southland all-star teams suggest, Texas State is especially strong around the infield. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Adam Witek and shortstop Thomas Field all made the first team. Texas State finished second in the SLC by turning 49 double plays, while Goldschmidt finished in the SLC top ten in eight offensive categories.
Texas State third baseman Lance Lofton was named to the SLC second team, along with starting pitcher Zach Tritz. Pitcher Mike Hart made the third team. Outfielders Elliott Babcock and Laurn Randell, as well as catcher Ben Theriot, all received honorable mention.
However, the Bobcats enter the tournament as the third seed and their path to the championship is long. Within their bracket, the Bobcats will somehow have to get past the league’s leading pitching staff, Southeastern Louisiana (4.28 ERA) and the third-leading staff, Lamar (4.94 ERA).
The Bobcats can hit with just about anyone, finishing third in the league this year with a .315 batting average. However, Texas State’s pitching ranks seventh of the eight teams in the tournament with a 5.74 ERA.
Texas-San Antonio (38-17, 22-8) won the regular season championship and will be favored entering the conference tournament. The Roadrunners finished third in league batting (.314) and second in pitching (4.89). However, the Roadrunners have lost five of their last ten starts, so they don’t enter the tournament on top of their game.
No team in the SLC hits like defending champion Sam Houston (.337). But Sam Houston finished seventh in the 12-team league in pitching (5.63).
Following Texas State’s game with Texas-Arlington this morning, second-seeded Lamar (32-21, 20-10) plays No. 7 Southeastern Louisiana (29-25, 15-15) at noon. UTSA plays eighth seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 4 p.m. and No. 4 Sam Houston State (33-23, 18-12) plays Northwestern State (28-26, 17-2) at 7 p.m.
The winners of today’s games will play in the winner’s bracket on Thursday, while today’s losers will play in Thursday’s losers’ bracket.Email | Print