HUNTSVILLE -- The Sam Houston State baseball team will be making its first Southland Conference post-season tournament appearance since 2000 when the No. 4 seeded Bearkats meet the No. 3 seed Texas State-San Marcos Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Natchitoches, LA.
In the other two first round games Wednesday at Brown-Stroud Field at
Northwestern State University, No. 1 seed Texas-San Antonio meets No. 6 Stephen F. Austin at 11 a.m. and No. 2 Lamar takes on No. 5 McNeese State at 3 p.m.
Sam Houston State is appearing in its seventh Southland Conference
post-season tournament. The Bearkats won the 1996 event in Shreveport, LA., advancing to the NCAA regionals in Austin where SHSU upset No. 2 ranked Miami in the first round before falling to Texas and UCLA. Sam Houston entered the 1996 tournament as the No. 4 seed, the same seed for the Bearkats this season.
Sam Houston State has produced a 34-22 record during the 2007 season, the Bearkats' first winning baseball record since 1998 when SHSU was 29-28. The 34 victories represent Sam Houston's highest single season total since the 1990 team went 34-22-1 and finished as SLC runner-up.
Mark Johnson, who directed Texas A&M to two NCAA College World Series
appearances and a record of 876 victories, 433 losses, and three ties in 21
years, has engineered an amazing turnaround by the Kats in his first season
as head coach. Johnson's A&M teams competed in the NCAA playoffs 13 times,
making 13 NCAA regional appearances and reaching the College World Series in
1993 and 1999. When the Bearkats defeated Prairie View on April 17, Johnson
picked up his 900th career victory.
Sam Houston State finished 9th in the 2006 Southland race with a 23-31
overall season record. Under Johnson this season, the Bearkats placed fourth
in the Southland race with a 18-12 record. The fourth place finish is the
highest league standing achieved by a Bearkat squad since SHSU was third in
the league in 1997.
Sam Houston State finished the regular season with a school record .321 team
batting average. The old school mark was the .315 average compiled by the
1980 Bearkat squad.
Five Bearkats hit above .300 during the 2007 season -- Keith Stein (.392),
Bobby Verbick (.379), Karl Krailo (.364), Todd Sebek (.330), and Austin
Boggs (.301). Stein hit .409 in Southland Conference play.
Senior righthander Luke Prihoda is a top candidate for national honors this
season as NCAA Baseball "Stopper of the Year". Prihoda has set a Southland
Conference record with 15 saves during the 2007 season. He is tied for
national leadership in saves. Prihoda a 5-3 record with a 1.33 ERA in 61
innings pitcher, allowing only nine earned runs, walking just nine, and
striking out 58 batters.
Sam Houston State's normal rotation in Southland Conference action has been
Jacob Howard (10-5, 3.03 ERA), Jesse Marshall (7-3, 3.50 ERA), and Jon
Lindenberger (2-1, 6.02 ERA) with Tim Gray (5-3, 5.94 ERA) in middle relief
and Luke Prihoda (5-3, 1.33 ERA) as the Bearkats' stopper.
The 2007 Southland Conference Tournament Schedule:
Wednesday, May 23
Game 1 - No. 1 UTSA vs. No. 6 SFA, 11 a.m.
Game 2 - No. 2 Lamar vs. No. 5 McNeese, 3 p.m.
Game 3 - No. 3 TX St-San Marcos vs. No. 4 Sam Houston, 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 24
Game 4 - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, 11 a.m.
Game 5 - Winner Game 1 vs. Loser Game 3, 3 p.m.
Game 6 - Winner Game 2 vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.
Friday, May 25
Game 7 - Winner's bracket game, 11 a.m.
Game 8 - Loser's bracket game, 3 p.m.
Game 9 - Loser's bracket game, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 26
Game 10 - Championship game, 1 p.m.