UT Arlington (1-3, 0-0 SBC) vs. Southeastern Louisiana (4-1, 0-0 SLC)
Friday, Feb. 20 | 3:00 p.m.
Clay Gould Ballpark
UT Arlington (1-3, 0-0 SBC) vs. Michigan State (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Saturday, Feb. 21 | 3:00 p.m.
Clay Gould Ballpark
UT Arlington (1-3, 0-0 SBC) vs. Houston Baptist (3-1, 0-0 SBC)
Saturday, Feb. 21 | 6:30 p.m.
Clay Gould Ballpark
By Paul Watley | @WatP7
ARLINGTON, Texas – UT Arlington will look to build on last week's play after carrying a 1-3 mark into the UTA Hilton Invitational at Clay Gould Ballpark this weekend.
While a 1-3 start is less than ideal for the Mavericks entering their second season as a member of the Sun Belt Conferece, UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas is confident that his team will improve as the season progresses.
"We're going to be all right," UT Arlington coach Darin Thomas said. "We just have to figure out how to slow the game a little bit and a big priority just like anybody else is to throw strikes, play defense and find a way to outscore them."
The Mavericks opened up their season with two straight losses to Missouri State and Washington State. After ending the SFA Lipton Ford Baseball Classic in Nacogdoches with an 18-9 victory over host Stephen F. Austin, UTA faced a daunting challenge in traveling to Fort Worth to take on top-ranked TCU. The Horned Frogs were in control for most of the game, but the Mavericks had their opportunities late as they had the tying run up to bat with two outs. However, the ending was no fairy tale as the No. 1 Horned Frogs forced a ground out to end the game with UTA on the wrong side of a 4-1 decision.
UT Arlington has relied on a unique blend of new and returning players early on this season to provide a spark offensively. RJ Williams has shown his strength at the plate through four games hitting .417 with four runs, two doubles and three RBI to go along with a slugging percentage of .583. Travis Sibley and Levi Scott have been two productive returners so far this season with Scott hitting .353 with three runs and a double while Sibley has registered a .471 slugging percentage with one home run and a team-high five RBI.
Having faced top-notch competition early during the season, Thomas has been able to see growth in his team, especially on the mound.
"We've faced some good arms and we've struggled against them offensively at times and then we've struggled a little bit on the mound at times," Thomas added. "I thought we pitched it better at TCU and we faced a good arm so it's hard to evaluate our hitters."
Playing host to three other teams in the UTA Hilton Invitational, the Mavericks will continue to face quality opponents as they will square off with a trio of teams who enter the weekend with only one loss. UTA will be able to look at years past to give them confidence heading into the weekend as the Mavs hold a 6-1 record in their home opener while under the guidance of Thomas. UT Arlington also holds a 29-16 all-time record on opening day.
"It's going to be a challenging weekend and hopefully we are up to the challenge," Thomas said. "We'll play hard and we're still trying to figure out roles. We have so many new guys and that's no excuse but we're still trying to figure out where to plug them in at."
The Mavericks will open up play at the UTA Hilton Invitational on Friday at 3 p.m. and will also face Michigan State on Saturday and Houston Baptist on Sunday.
-Mavericks hold 22-24 mark against Southeastern Louisiana with UTA dropping seven of the last ten games.
-The last meeting between the schools came on May 26, 2012 with UTA coming out on top 13-4.
-UTA will square off with Michigan State for the first time since 1978. Mavs hold a 1-1 series tie with the Spartans.
-Mavericks lead all-time series with Houston Baptist 6-5 with last meeting coming on April 8, 2014 in Houston with the Huskies claiming a 7-4 victory.
-The last meeting at Clay Gould Ballpark vs. HBU came on Mar. 3, 2013 with UTA winning 7-5.
-UT Arlington fell on the road to No. 1 TCU this past Tuesday with a 4-1 decision. The Mavs had the tying run up to bat in the ninth inning with two outs, before a groundout ended the game.
-UTA is 15-10 all-time against schools from the Big Ten and 339-330 against Southland Conference teams.
-UTA had a record-breaking six players taken during the 2014 MLB Draft with three players taken in the top ten rounds.
-Clay Gould Ballpark is currently undergoing renovations with the addition of a clubhouse. The clubhouse will feature a player lounge and coaches’ lounge and offices. The renovations also included a revamped dugout and pressbox for UT Arlington.
-Former Maverick Hunter Pence won his second World Series ring this past October with the San Francisco Giants. Pence was also honored last month with an inducation into the UTA Hall of Honor
-Josh Sours enters his first year as the voice of the Mavericks at UTA baseball games. Sours, a UT Arlington graduate, can be heard ten minutes prior to first pitch on UTAMavs.com
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