The Southland Conference baseball regular season title is within reach this weekend when Sam Houston State hosts Central Arkansas at Don Sanders Stadium. With a two-game lead over A&M-Corpus Christi, the Kats control their own destiny.
First pitch for the series opener against Central Arkansas is scheduled for Thursday at 6:30 p.m. The two teams also will play Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.
Sam Houston (33-18, 17-7) is in position to clinch its second consecutive regular season league championship after having not claimed one since 1989. Four seniors, Michael Burchett, Kevin Miller, Greg Olson, and Jessie Plumlee, will be honored before Saturday’s series finale.
Central Arkansas (34-16, 12-12) is coming off of a midweek win over Tennessee-Martin, 16-4, Tuesday after dropping two-of-three to Stephen F. Austin.
“Central Arkansas has been a very consistent team all year,” said Bearkat had coach David Pierce. “They’ve won some big series out of conference and they can really pitch. We have to have a solid hitting approach and make them earn what they get.”
Third baseman Kevin Miller has put together an outstanding senior season. The Pearland High School product leads the team with a .347 average and 66 hits. His 34 runs scored ranks second on the team.
The ultimate utility man for the Bearkats, senior Jessie Plumlee has played nearly every position in his career at Sam Houston. This season alone he has played at second base, catcher, and most recently first base. He has even moved around the batting order and is currently the Kats leadoff hitter.
A four year letterman with 132 career starts, senior Greg Olson has been a fixture in right field for the Kats. He has been an outstanding defender and a threat on the base paths throughout his career. Olson has appeared in 190 games with career totals of 151 hits, 51 RBI, 27 doubles, two triples, and a homer.
A veteran reliever, senior Michael Burchett’s 21 career saves stands second all-time at Sam Houston. His 10 saves in 2012 also ranks second in school history. The side-arming righty has been the model of consistency while posting more than twice as many strikeouts as walks in his career. Michael has a 3.67 ERA this season with 17 strikeouts and four saves.
Central Arkansas outfielder Forrestt Allday is one of the conference’s leading offensive players with a .383 average, 70 hits, 40 runs scored, and 33 RBI. Catcher Michael Marietta is the Bear’s biggest power threat with four homers and 49 runs batted in.
The Bear’s pitching staff has been among the most consistent in the league. Each of the team’s weekend starters has made 13 starts in 13 weeks this season. UCA has team ERA of 2.70, the best in the Southland.
“We need to worry about winning Thursday night first,” Pierce said. “This weekend does have a lot of meaning to it, but we can’t get caught up in it. We have to approach this series just like the rest of them. We have to play a very solid game and we need timely hits. We will have to play solid defense and attack the strike zone.”
All three games this weekend are “Youth Baseball Days.” Any youth baseball and softball player who wears their uniform to the game will receive free admission and parent’s tickets start at $6.
Friday is the final “First Financial Family Night” where each purchase of a reserved seat gets a free hot dog, popcorn, and drink.
Saturday’s game will be followed with a team autograph session and kids will have the opportunity to run the bases. Purchase tickets at GoBearkats.com or over the phone by calling 936-294-1729.