After a sweep in a three game set against the UCA Bears that were decided by seven runs total, the Bearkats have no midweek games for just the second time this season.
The Kats can use the extra time to heal up, get fresh and prepare to take on the dreaded rival, the SFA Lumberjacks in a weekend series.
Junior right hander opened the series for the Bearkats with a performance so dominant that he was awarded the Southland pitcher of the week for the second time this season.
Odom worked all nine innings, where only four hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts with 106 pitches on the night, which enabled a 2-0 Bearkat victory.
“Sammy’s a bull,” SHSU Head Coach Matt Deggs said. “He pitched his best inning of the night in the ninth. He deserves everything he’s getting this year, and I’m so proud of him.”
Odom was helped out thanks to a big triple from junior catcher Robbie Rojas in the seventh, who later scored to give the Bearkats that all important insurance run.
“It’s part of our pack mentality,” Deggs said. “We are built to do whatever we have to do on any given night. If this wind is blowing in, we’ve got to manufacture. If it’s blowing out, we can play a little more physical lineup. That second run might as well have been the ninth or 10th run.”
Saturday’s contest was less one sided, with the Bearkats down 3-0 after a rough first inning.
The Bearkats fought back, however; and scored six runs down the stretch to take a 6-3 victory.
Junior starter Heath Donica allowed a measly two baserunners in his six innings of work after the first, with his final line with four punch outs, five hits, and three earned runs.
“I got put on my butt there in the first inning,” Donica said. “I got punched in the mouth. You can either fold or respond. I think being here and learning the pack mentality, to be a mentality tough guy, it’s the toughness that really helped me.”
Freshman third baseman Andrew Fregia tied the game in the bottom of the fourth with a three run bomb to right field, which was his second in just six games.
“We know if you put a three spot and throw a punch we will throw up a haymaker,” Fregia said. “Everybody in the dugout knows it’s going to come. You just have to keep swinging the barrel and keep hitting the ball hard.”
The Bearkats looked to sweep the Bears but had their hardest game of the series, after they gave up six runs in the first.
In a similar fashion to Saturday’s battle, the Bearkats clawed their way back into the game and took down the Bears 9-7.
“Good teams take two out of three,” Deggs said. “Teams that have a chance to be really good or be great, they sweep. Any time you have a chance to win on Sunday for a sweep, you’ve got to take advantage of it if your expectation is to go out and win the league, which ours is.”
After freshman Riley Gossett got knocked around in the first inning, he bounced back, much like Donica the day before, and worked scoreless frames the rest of his day.
Senior left hander Hayden Nixon, who is affectionately called Papa by the youthful group, came in and worked three innings of three hit baseball, which was good enough to earn the win.
“I think as a whole we’re coming together,” Nixon said. “I knew if they put in play, my defense would do the work. We are playing really good ball right now.”
When asked how he got his nickname, Nixon referenced his seniority on the team.
“I’m a pretty old guy on the team,” Nixon said. “Spence Rahm used to call me big papa, but I definitely feel like a dad on this team sometimes, so I embrace it.”
The Bearkats now boast an eight game conference win streak and look to make it 11 after a battle against SFA.
The Lumberjacks record isn’t quite where they would like it, with a 15-16 overall record, and a 4-8 conference record.
However SFA comes in with quite a bit of momentum, in three wins out of the four games on their home stand and completely dismantling Texas Southern to the tune of 17-3 on Tuesday afternoon.
The bat the Kats should look out for is senior outfielder Garrrett McMullen, who is hitting .330 on the season, along with nine stolen bases, five homeruns, four doubles, and 14 walks.
SFA’s starter to watch is junior Jarred Greene, who has a 4-1 record, and has struck out 28 batters while only giving up 18 runs in 37 and 2/3 innings.
The reliever to watch for the Lumberjacks is freshman standout Seth Campbell. Campbell leads the team with a 1.65 ERA. He also has 12 strikeouts and only eight hits against him in 16 and 1/3 innings on the mound.
The first game of the set is on Friday night at 6 p.m. at Don Sanders,