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This Weekend in the Sun Belt

This week the teams pass the halfway point in the Sun Belt Conference race.  The Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (14-1) have a commanding lead in the league race as they head to UT Arlington (8-7.)  The Cajuns lead second place Arkansas State by four games.

After that, it’s all jumbled up as teams begin to jockey for position for the Sun Belt Tournament, hosted by South Alabama in Mobile the weekend before Memorial Day.

Here are the matchups for this weekend:

SOUTH ALABAMA (6-8) AT WKU (7-8)–After a disappointing weekend where the Hilltoppers dropped two of three to Troy, WKU hosts South Alabama this weekend.  The Jags lost a tough series, losing two of three to Arkansas State, the last game going 14 innings.  WKU gave up a lot more runs than coach Matt Myers wanted last weekend, and South Alabama is hoping that will be an elixir for their offense that really struggles to score.  Locke St. John was outstanding on the mound for the Jags.  He’s the Sun Belt pitcher of the week.  The Jags’ staff has been solid all season.

GEORGIA STATE (5-10) AT TEXAS STATE (8-7)–The normally reliable Bobcats pitching staff was anything but last weekend, surrendering nearly ten runs per game to a ULM club that has struggled to score.  Now, they’re going to face a team that is as good in the middle of the lineup in this league as anyone not named Louisiana.  While NicWilson has been struggling and hasn’t homered in nearly a month. Chase Raffield and Matt Rose have been on fire, creating a salty middle of the lineup.  If the Panthers are going to make the conference tournament, however, they’re going to have to pitch a lot better.

TROY (6-8) AT UALR (3-12)–Scott Norwood’s club is in last place even though the Trojans are among the best in the league on the mound.  And, playing at Gary Hogan FIeld, that isn’t an easy task.  After looking anemic against Louisiana, Troy bounced back with a series win over Western Kentucky.  It’s up to the Trojans pitchers to navigate a UALR lineup that has a lot of holes, because Norwood’s pitching staff is going to make you play nine innings.

UL MONROE (7-8) at ARKANSAS STATE (10-5)–Not many would have given ULM  a chance to be one game under .500 after their abysmal start, but the Warhawks are starting to score runs in bunches and their pitching is just good enough to keep them in games.  Tomlinson Stadium is anything but a hitters park, however, and the ASU staff likes to pitch there.  A series win here and more eyebrows will be raised in the direction of the Warhawks.  Red Wolves better be ready to play.

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