An early start time to open the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Tournament doesn't bother the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
UALR (28-26), the tournament's No. 3 seed, faces No. 6 Troy at 8 a.m. Central today at Springs Brooks Stadium in Conway, S.C.
The Trojans, who took two of three from Troy in a series at Gary Hogan Field in April, arrived in South Carolina on Sunday from Little Rock. UALR Coach Chris Curry said the team has awakened early both Monday and Tuesday to help prepare for today's game.
"We've got an older club," Curry said. "They know how to handle situations like this."
For almost two months, the Trojans have handled business well.
Since a 7-18 start in late March, the Trojans are 21-8 with victories against nationally ranked University of Arkansas, and series victories against Sun Belt contenders Coastal Carolina and Texas State.
UALR is coming off a three-game sweep at Arkansas State University. The Trojans outscored the Red Wolves 23-10 in the series and had 20 hits in Saturday's 13-9 victory in Jonesboro.
Senior designated hitter Riley Pittman, who was named to the Sun Belt first team Monday, leads the Trojans offensively, batting .337 with 13 home runs and 51 RBI.
Curry said the Trojans have been confident at the plate over the past two weeks in which they've won six of their past seven games to end the regular season.
"We've got confidence," Curry said. "We're in a good rhythm offensively. I don't feel like one guy has to put everyone on his back. No one has to carry us."
Right-hander Chandler Fidel, a Sun Belt first-team selection, will start for the Trojans today. Fidel (5-4, 3.52 ERA) has gone at least 8 innings in 3 of his past 4 starts. He has had no-decisions in each of his past two starts against Texas State (9 innings, 3 runs, 6 hits, 12 strikeouts) and ASU (81/3 innings, 1 run, 0 earned, 6 hits, 8 strikeouts).
Having Fidel, Hayden Arnold and Jose Torres in the Trojans' rotation has pleased Curry, who is in his sixth season at UALR.
"They give us some depth that we don't have in years past," Curry said. "It's nice to have a true rotation."
Troy (29-27) will have right-hander Cory Gill on the mound. Gill (7-3, 4.24) allowed 4 runs, 3 earned, over 6 innings at UALR on April 26.
Junior shortstop Drew Frederic leads Troy with 10 home runs.
"Troy is a good club," Curry said. "They've won five of their last six series. It should be a very good first game."
Today's winner will advance to a winner's bracket game at 3 p.m. Thursday against Georgia Southern or Louisiana-Lafayette
For Curry, it's all about the first game for the Trojans.
"Getting out of the gate is important," Curry said. "We need Chandler to go deep into the game so we don't burn out our bullpen."
Sun Belt Tournament schedule
At Springs Brooks Stadium, Conway, S.C.
All times Central
GAME 1 Louisiana-Monroe 12, South Alabama 7
GAME 2 Louisiana-Lafayette 6, Appalachian State 2
GAME 3 UALR vs. Troy, 8 a.m.
GAME 4 Georgia Southern vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 11:30 a.m.
GAME 5 Texas-Arlington vs. Coastal Carolina, 3 p.m.
GAME 6 Texas State vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 6:30 p.m.
GAME 7 Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 8 a.m.
GAME 8 Game 5 loser vs. Game 6 loser, 11:30 a.m.
GAME 9 Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 3 p.m.
GAME 10 Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 6:30 p.m.
Sports on 05/22/2019
Print Headline: UALR prepares to rise and shine