HUNTSVILLE, TX -- First place in the 2012 Southland Conference baseball race is at stake this weekend when Sam Houston State plays host to Northwestern State in the biggest league weekend series so far this spring.
The Bearkats stand atop the league with a 10-2 Southland Conference slate. The Demons are one game back in second place with a 9-3 conference mark.
Sam Houston rank as one of the hottest teams in NCAA Division I baseball with a nine-game winning streak. The Kats climbed to No. 24 in this week's Collegiate Baseball national poll with an overall season record of 20-9. Tuesday night SHSU defeated No. 9 Rice 2-1 in Houston.
First pitch in the series is Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at Don Sanders Stadium. Friday's second game also will start at 6:30 p.m. with the third and final contest on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.
Since moving up to the NCAA Division I level as a member of the Southland Conference in 1987, the Kats' longest winning streak has been 10 games (in 2008 ended by a 13-9 loss to Texas A&M and in 2011 stopped by an 8-4 loss to UT-Arlington).
Sam Houston also has won its last seven Southland Conference games, sweeping Texas State and UTSA in its last two series. In 25 years of Southland action, the Bearkats have never swept three league weekend series in a row.
Northwestern State owns a 12-14 season record. The Demons swept Lamar and took two of three in each of their series with McNeese State and Stephen F. Austin.
Sam Houston enters the series leading the Southland in hitting with a team batting average of .315. Bearkat pitching ranks third in the league with a 3.42 team earned run average.
Northwestern State ranks sixth in the league in hitting (.266) and 10th team ERA (4.95).
Sam Houston designated hitter Anthony Azar (.419) and outfielder Jake Arrington (.368) stand second and fifth in the Southland Conference in individual batting average.
Tickets for Sam Houston State home baseball games are available now online at www.gobearkats.com/tickets or at the SHSU athletic ticket office located in the Ron Mafrige Field House at Bowers Stadium. Ticket office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
For more information, call the Sam Houston ticket office at (936) 294-1729.