Mavericks striving to streak
April 8, 2010
By Josh Bowe for utamavs.com
ARLINGTON, Texas - If only UT Arlington could play the Southland Conference every game, it might have a nice win streak going.
After a 13-1 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on March 23, the Mavericks said they were poised to break out on a winning run. They did, with a 4-2 record - against the Southland.
UTA has dropped two straight non-conference games since pummeling the Warhawks in late March. But the Mavs still believe they are about to hit their stride
At least they think they are.
"Well I hope we are," Mavericks coach Darin Thomas said. "I'll take wins anytime. We're playing better since the DBU (Dallas Baptist) three game series."
That series against DBU opened the season with three consecutive losses. Pitching and defense were the cause for concern as UTA gave up a total of 33 runs in the three games.
Since that opening series, the Mavericks have slowly but surely picked up their level of play. UTA has not been swept since. And to be fair the two non-conference losses were to nationally ranked TCU and Oral Roberts. Oral Roberts was fresh off defeating then No. 7 Texas in Austin.
The pitching has stabilized after the DBU debacle and now features potential All-American senior Jason Mitchell. Mitchell has revitalized the pitching staff with ace-like performances. Mitchell has picked up two straight Southland Pitcher of the Week awards and three overall.
"We're starting to settle into some pitching roles - especially on the weekend," Thomas said, hinting at Mitchell's success. "If we pitch, we always have a chance to win."
Sophomore first baseman Jordan Vaughn said its time to pick things up with conference play heating up. The Mavericks have obliged, winning three straight Southland series against UTSA, Northwestern State and Nicholls State.
"It's the perfect time to do it," Vaughn said. "We're getting into conference play. Pitching is getting better. Hitting is getting better."
Speaking of hitting, Vaughn has had one of the tougher jobs of any Maverick hitter: batting ahead of junior All-American centerfielder Michael Choice.
Vaughn has performed admirably with the plentiful pitches he's seen to hit. Vaughn is more likely to see better pitches in the strike zone as to not walk him and put an extra runner on the bases for Choice to smash home.
"There's a little bit of pressure," Vaughn said. "I love it. I like the spot and to have a guy like that behind me is great."
Choice has been doing most of the heavy lifting, sporting a team high .396 batting average, 11 home runs and 31 RBIs. What has Choice most convinced that the Mavericks will keep winning is that people are finally starting to drive him in, instead of vice versa.
"It's great seeing some of the guys starting to hit the ball," Choice said. "It relieves the pressure seeing everyone hit as a whole."
UTA will hope to break the losing streak and get back on track towards winning ways this weekend at Southeastern Louisiana. Thomas said he just wants to see some more good games and let the rest fall in place.
"All we can do is try to play good baseball," Thomas said.