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The University of Central Arkansas enters the final weekend of the regular season in contention to win the Southland Conference.

UCA (27-24, 17-10) is in a tie for second place with Incarnate Word and Southeastern Louisiana and is one game behind league leader Sam Houston State.

Today’s game

Central Arkansas AT LAMAR

WHEN 6 p.m. Central

WHERE Vincent-Beck Stadium,

Beaumont, Texas

RECORDS UCA 27-24, 17-10 Southland Conference; Lamar 17-34, 8-19

The Bears open a three-game series tonight against Lamar (17-34, 8-19) in Beaumont, Texas. Tonight and Friday's games begin at 6 p.m. Central, while Saturday's series finale is at 2 p.m.

Despite a 5-1 loss to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on Tuesday night at Dickey-Stephens Park in North Little Rock, UCA has been solid in the Southland. The Bears swept Abilene Christian on Friday-Sunday in their final home series of the season.

UCA Coach Allen Gum has appreciated his team's approach over the past couple of weeks.

"It's the thing we've been using: Keep your head down. Head down, chin up," Gum said. "Go one pitch at a time and see what happens this weekend. I'm proud of our guys, man. We've battled like crazy."

When it comes to UCA's success this season, it's been about the pitching staff led by starters Cody Davenport and Noah Cameron.

The Bears are second in the Southland with a 3.65 ERA behind Nicholls State (3.36) and have allowed a league-low 138 walks.

"It starts with starting pitching," Gum said. "Davenport and Cameron on Friday and Saturday have been tough on opponents. We haven't done anything unbelievable. You can look at our offensive numbers, but we've played some good fundamental baseball.

"We're not the most talented team, but we're grinding it out and we've done really well in the Southland. I couldn't be more proud of these guys. They've fought and hung together and put the pieces together."

Davenport and Cameron are among the top 10 pitchers in the Southland this season.

Davenport is 5-4 with a 2.16 ERA and has struck out 78 in 872/3 innings.

"You got Davenport, who's a workhorse," Gum said. "He wants the ball. He doesn't want to give the ball up late. He wants to finish games. Just having that leadership on Friday, he's been tremendous."

Cameron has a 6-1 record with a 2.67 ERA in 81 innings.

After their series with Lamar, UCA will stay in Huntsville, Texas, for two days before heading to Sugar Land, Texas, for the Southland Tournament, which begins Wednesday.

With the Bears playing in Texas for their final regular-season series, Gum was sure he wasn't going to have his team head back to Conway, then back to the Lone Star State once again in a span of a couple of days.

"We have to make sure we navigate it well and keep our minds fresh," Gum said. "We had a great year last year and we didn't finish well. Hopefully this year, we can turn this thing around."

Sports on 05/16/2019

Print Headline: UCA a contender for Southland title

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