Sam Houston State baseball entered the season as favorites for the Southland Conference regular season championship, but the Bearkats have played inconsistent baseball in their 34 games under new head coach Matt Deggs.
SHSU lost its first series against rival Stephen F. Austin State since the 2010 season this past weekend. The Bearkats dropped the first two games of the series before avoiding the sweep Saturday with some help from a pair of SHSU home runs.
With 22 games remaining in the 2015 season, the Kats are currently fifth in the SLC. The 15-19 Kats have 15 SLC games remaining, nine of which are at home. SHSU needs to finish in the top eight of the SLC in order to compete in the SLC tournament in which the winner automatically advances to the NCAA Regionals. The Kats are attempting to reach the Regionals for their fourth straight season.
The Kats remaining SLC schedule includes Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian, A&M-Corpus Christi, Houston Baptist and Lamar. Non-conference games for the Kats include SLC foe-Northwestern State, Texas, Houston, Texas A&M and a series with the University of Oklahoma.
SHSU has played rather poor defense having commit 60 errors, the most in the SLC, and having the worst statistical defense in the conference with a .954 fielding percentage. The Kats sit in the middle of the SLC with a 3.87 team ERA and allows opposing batters to hit .268.
Four Kats who have started at least 20 games this season are batting .300 or better, and the team is fourth in the SLC with a .279 batting average.
Some people may look at this season and say SHSU is having a poor season, but the Kats have just under half a season left to play. The Kats have a new head coach, lost multiple key players due to graduation and the MLB draft, and most of all the Kats have a huge target on their backs as they attempt to win their fourth straight SLC championship.
The Kats have many positives to take away from certain games especially how close most of their losses have been. The Kats have only lost by five or more runs four times this season as most of their games remain close in the final innings.
Yes, the Kats are not overwhelmingly in control of the SLC at the moment, but the Kats have just over a month to take the reins of their season and control their fate in the SLC.
The deeper the Kats get into the season, the more chemistry and consistency the team builds. As long as SHSU remains in the top eight for the SLC tournament, the Kats can take on any team in the double-elimination bracket.
The Kats host Northwestern State today at Don Sanders Stadium as the game is not included on either teams’ conference schedule.
First pitch between the two top-five SLC teams is set for 6:30 p.m. SHSU will return to SLC play this weekend with a series against the Cardinals.