Sam Houston State will open play in the Southland Tournament against No. 8 seed Lamar, Wednesday at noon in the first round. The Bearkats (40-15, 22-8 SLC) are the top seed for the third straight season.
“I think that all eight teams have an opportunity to win this tournament,” Bearkat head coach David Pierce said. “There’s a lot of balance in our league and a lot of parity in our league. Our goal is to try to continue to play well and put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Bearkats finished the regular season by winning 14 of their final 15 games and 12 straight in Southland play. Sam Houston needed every one of those wins to claim an outright title, as they finished just one game ahead of second-place Nicholls.
The Kats dropped two-of-three to Lamar in Beaumont each of the last two seasons. The Cardinals also eliminated SHSU from the Southland tournament last season.
“Lamar has always been our nemesis in this league for as long as I’ve been a part of it,” Pierce added. “They play very well against us. They’re a good challenge and they are a tough matchup for us but I think we’ll be ready to go.”
The first-round matchup will feature the Southland’s Player of the Year, Sam Houston catcher Anthony Azar and Hitter of the Year, Lamar shortstop Sam Bumpers.
Only twice in the 19-year modern history of the tournament, which decides the Southland's representative to the NCAA Regionals, has the No. 1 seed won the event.
The Bearkats won in 1996 in Shreveport, La., 2007 in Natchitoches, La., 2008 in Huntsville and 2009 in Corpus Christi. Sam Houston was seeded fourth in 1996, 2007 and 2008 and seventh in 2009 (to become the lowest seed ever to win the event).
“We try to lay out the season in different championships and our first one is the regular season and the second is the conference tournament, which we haven’t played that well in for whatever reason. The approach is going to be the same. We are going to try to really simplify it, try to throw a lot of strikes, make routine plays and get timely hits,” Pierce said.
An all-tournament pass, which allows entry into all 15 possible games of the tournament, is $35 for adults and $25 for children ages 3-12. An adult single-day pass, which will include four games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with a possibility of three games on Saturday, is $14 each day, while a single-day pass for children is $10. If Saturday features only one game, then tickets for the championship will be $9 for adults and $7 for children. Students at Southland Conference institutions will also gain free admission with a valid student ID. Tickets are available for purchase in person at the Central Arkansas ticket office, by phone at 501-852-2234, and online at the university’s athletics website at www.ucasports.com/tickets.
The winner of the 2014 tournament receives an automatic qualification to the NCAA tournament. The selection show airs Monday, May 26 at 11 a.m., CDT, on ESPNU.
2014 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament Schedule
Wednesday, May 21
Game One: No. 5 Southeastern La. vs. No. 4 Northwestern St., 9 a.m.
Game Two: No. 8 Lamar vs. No. 1 Sam Houston St., Noon
Game Three: No. 7 McNeese St. vs. No. 2 Nicholls, 4 p.m.
Game Four: No. 6 Central Arkansas vs. No. 3 A&M-Corpus Christi, 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 22
Game Five: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 9 a.m.
Game Six: Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, Noon
Game Seven: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 4 p.m.
Game Eight: Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 23
Game Nine: Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 5, 9 a.m.
Game 10: Loser Game 8 vs. Winner Game 6, Noon
Game 11: Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 9, 4 p.m.
Game 12: Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 10, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 24
*#Game 13: Loser Game 11 vs. Winner Game 11, 9 a.m.
^#Game 14: Loser Game 12 vs. Winner Game 12, 1 p.m.
+Championship: Winner Game 13 vs. Winner Game 14, 1 or 5 p.m.
* Game 13 will be necessary if the winner of Game 9 also wins Game 11.
^ Game 14 will be necessary if the winner of Game 10 also wins Game 12.
# If only one of the two early games is necessary on Saturday, it will be played at 9 a.m., with the Championship Game starting at 1 p.m.
+ If both bracket winners are undefeated, the championship game will be played on Saturday at 1 p.m.
NOTE: There will be a minimum of 45 minutes between games on Wednesday and 30 minutes the remainder of the week with no game starting prior to its scheduled start time.