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Baseball to host UTA Invitational over weekend

Greg McCall leads the team with a .444 batting average entering the UTA Invitational.
 
Greg McCall leads the team with a .444 batting average entering the UTA Invitational.
 

Feb. 23, 2011

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ARLINGTON, Tex. - UT Arlington returns home this week to host the UTA Invitational, set to begin Thursday.

The Mavericks host Dallas Baptist at 3 p.m. Thursday at Clay Gould Ballpark, marking the home opener of the 2011 season. They face South Dakota State on Friday at 3 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m. they host Missouri State.

It won't be an easy home tournament for the Mavs. Dallas Baptist received votes in the Collegiate Baseball top 40. Missouri State beat defending Southland Conference champion Texas State last weekend. South Dakota State was picked to finish second in the Summit League this season.

Still, it's nice for the team to return home to Clay Gould Ballpark.

"It's great to return home and host some good teams at what we expect will be a very competitive tournament," UTA coach Darin Thomas said.

UTA (0-3) is looking for its first win after dropping all three contests at Houston last weekend.

Shortstop Jesse Payne said it will be nice to put the trip to Houston in the rearview mirror.

"We got punched in the mouth, but it's a long season and we're still confident," Payne said. "We know what we did wrong and we know what we need to work on. We're excited to be home. We always play well here. We're playing some tough teams, but that's the way our whole schedule is. We love that. We thrive off that."

There were some positives to come out of last weekend's three-game series at Houston. Most notably, three true freshmen played well in their first collegiate action.

Kasey Merck threw well enough to earn his first collegiate start during the UTA Invitational (Friday against South Dakota State). The right-hander threw 5.1 scoreless innings Sunday at Houston, giving up one hit and one walk while striking out three.

Ryan Walker performed well in the leadoff role, notching three hits with two runs and two RBI. Greg McCall's .444 batting average leads the team through the first weekend.

"It's just baseball like normal," Walker said. "There were a few nerves at first, but after that it's just playing like normal."

Thursday's first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

 

 

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