Friday, April 21 – Sunday, April 23 • Conway, Ark. • Bear Stadium
Sam Houston State (26-11, 13-2 SLC) vs. Central Arkansas (19-18, 7-8 SLC)
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CONWAY, Ark. – Sam Houston State hits the road for its longest trip of the season, taking on Central Arkansas in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. from Bear Stadium. Saturday's middle game is slated for 4 p.m. and the Sunday finale will begin at 1 o'clock.
Head coach Matt Deggs heads into Friday one victory shy of his 100th. The third-year head man looks to become the fourth coach to reach the milestone since the program joined Division I in 1987. Deggs owns a 99-61 record including a 54-20 mark in Southland Conference play.
The Bearkats, who are in the midst of a nine-game road trip, knocked off No. 12 Houston, 5-4 on Tuesday in the first of three games to decide the inaugural Don Sanders Cup. In that game, the team pounded out 12 hits while playing error-free baseball and keeping the Cougars off the board until the seventh.
Friday – RHP Heath Donica, SHSU (7-1, 1.58 ERA) vs. RHP Tyler Gray, UCA (3-4, 4.20 ERA)
Saturday – LHP Seth Ballew, SHSU (4-2, 4.68 ERA) vs. RHP Cody Davenport, UCA (2-2, 3.19 ERA)
Sunday – RHP Dakota Mills, SHSU (4-3, 4.79 ERA) vs. RHP Mark Moyer (4-2, 3.02 ERA)
OUT OF THE BOX
The Bearkats’ 13-2 start to Southland Conference play matches the 2013 squad for the best start to league play in team lore. Sam Houston started 13-0, the second-best start in conference history before dropping its last two games at Stephen F. Austin last weekend.
Sam Houston ranks fifth nationally in triples (19), triples per game (0.51) and sacrifice bunts (39).
Dating to the beginning of the 2016 season, Sam Houston has won 16 of its last 19 Southland Conference series including winning five of its last six road series.
With a goal of being a top-40 RPI team, Sam Houston has begun its climb. The Bearkats have vaulted 53 spots to No. 84 currently after sitting at 137 on April 3. The team defeated then-No. 15 Houston on Tuesday and grabbed a road win at No. 9 Baylor the week before.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP VS. CENTRAL ARKANSAS
Friday’s matchup will be the 31st all-time between the two programs and 18th in Conway, Ark. The Bearkats own a 17-13 advantage in the series and have won four straight, all coming a season ago.
The two teams have split the last 10 matchups with seven being decided by two runs or fewer. Sam Houston is looking to reverse its recent misfortune against the Bears in Conway, Ark. The Kats have dropped their previous two series at UCA and have lost five of six against the Bears at the venue.
The weekend trip marks the first time of the Bearkats have played outside the state of Texas in 2017. The 417-mile trek is the longest for Sam Houston since traveling 506 miles to face Texas Tech in a twin bill on April 13, 2016.
STREAKING INTO THE WEEKEND
Three Sam Houston players enter the weekend with double-digit reached base streaks including Hunter Hearn (20), Andrew Fregia (13) and Lance Miles (12). Robie Rojas is looking to extend his hit streak to double digits, heading into Friday at eight consecutive.
Head coach Matt Deggs on expectations entering last 20 games of the season…
“Anytime it heats up and you get towards the latter part of the year, generally offense is going to become the name of the game. We’ve got to continue to eliminate walks and hit batters, dominate routine plays and continue to get our swings off with direction. If we can do those things and execute offensively, I like where we’re at.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on hitting the road trip and entering the weekend...
“It’s good to be back on the road. Any time you get out on the road, especially on a long trip, it’s a chance for the team to come together. It’s just you and the ballclub for four games. We’re going to get up there, have a good practice tonight and be ready to go tomorrow.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on the team playing looser and how that can help…
“This team has had a lot of pressure to play all year, starting with rankings, RPI, etc. That can wear on you mentally. We need to just play the game like we all did growing up. This group when they play fast, hard and loose, they are hard to stop.”
Head coach Matt Deggs on last year vs. Central Arkansas and thought on the series…
“Like with most teams on our schedule, they are very well coached. They are going to play hard. They’re ranked statistically near the top of the league in fielding. We’re going to have to go up there and play a good clean game all three days. Our formula doesn’t change. I like where we’re at right now.”