MOBILE, Ala. – No. 1 Louisiana Lafayette enters the Sun Belt Conference Tournament as the team to beat as the double-elimination tournament kicks off Wednesday at Stanky Field. The top eight teams in the conference converge with the goal of knocking off top-ranked, top seed Louisiana Lafayette for the conference crown which is the only way the Sun Belt will get two bids in the upcoming NCAA Regionals. The Cajuns enter the tournament having won seven straight games to close out a 49 win regular season.
In game one the middle teams in the conference meet as No. 5 seed Western Kentucky faces No. 4 seed Texas State. Earlier in the season WKU took two-of-three from the Bobcats in Bowling Green. Both teams struggled down the stretch as the Hilltoppers dropped five of their last seven and the Bobcats dropped four of their last six games. WKU ace Justin Hageman (6-2, 2.87 ERA, 34 BB, 62 K) will square off against Texas State’s Taylor Black (6-4, 2.84 ERA, 20 BB, 83 K).
Game two will see the seventh game between No. 1 seed Louisiana Lafayette and No. 8 seed Louisiana Monroe in a series that the Cajuns have dominated, winning all six previous match-ups this season. The Cajuns Austin Robichaux (7-2, 3.06 ERA, 18 BB, 63 K) toes the rubber against Warhawks will counter with Tyler Bray (8-5, 5 SV, 3.45 ERA, 18 BB, 64 K).
In game three, No. 3 seed Arkansas State will look to reverse the result in a pitching rematch from two weekends ago as No. 6 seed Troy’s Shane McCain (4-4, 3.47 ERA, 39 BB, 95 K) will battle the Red Wolves’ David Owen (5-6, 3.96 ERA, 25 BB, 75 K). In their last meeting, McCain threw eight innings, allowing an earned run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts while Owen allowed two earned runs on six hits and three walks in one rough inning and was able to strike out seven.
No. 7 seed South Alabama, as the host team, chose to open in game four and will face No. 2 seed UT Arlington who swept the Jaguars at Stanky Field earlier in conference play. The Mavericks also come in as the hottest team in the Sun Belt having won seven straight games. South Alabama’s Locke St. John (6-2, 3.41 ERA, 27 BB, 46 K) takes the hill against the Mavericks’ Daniel Milliman (5-0, 2.96 ERA, 18 BB, 32 K).