Trojans set for ‘toughest stretch’

Despite recent setbacks, UALR baseball coach Chris Curry (right) said he is feeling optimistic about his team as it enters Ohio Valley Conference play today against Morehead State.
(Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)
Despite recent setbacks, UALR baseball coach Chris Curry (right) said he is feeling optimistic about his team as it enters Ohio Valley Conference play today against Morehead State. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Thomas Metthe)

The University of Arkansas-Little Rock baseball team opens Ohio Valley Conference play tonight as it takes on Morehead State at Gary Hogan Field in Little Rock for the first game of a three-game weekend set.

UALR has lost four consecutive games entering tonight, including a three-game sweep at Murray State last weekend. Despite the recent setbacks, Coach Chris Curry said he is feeling optimistic about his team as it enters conference play.

"We're in our toughest stretch probably of the entire season," Curry said. "We're just trying to fight through it. Morehead won the regular season [conference title] last year. It came down to the last weekend, us against them and they were able to win two games."

As the preseason pick to win the conference, the Trojans face higher expectations this season. Morehead State is also expected to be a top contender coming off last season's regular season title. In UALR's second season in the OVC, Curry said he hopes more familiarity with the conference opponents bodes well for the Trojans.

"Just understanding the personalities of the coaching staffs and how they like to play the game helps," Curry said. "I think it's key to get a feel for how they play at their own park versus on the road and how they are different. What changes and what adjustments they make."

The Trojans' bullpen has been solid all season, but Curry said he is hoping to get a little bit more consistency from the starters as the conference season begins. This weekend against the Eagles, UALR will use a rotation that features Hoss Brewer tonight, Jackson Wells on Saturday and Thomas Kuykendall on Sunday.

Tyler Williams, Nico Baumbach and Ty Rhoades spearhead a potent batting order for UALR. After batting .368 a season ago, Williams is at .258 so far this season. He had a breakout game last week in a 12-2 win over Arkansas State, collecting four hits and his first home run of the season.

"We knew that the first half of our schedule was going to be very difficult," Curry said. "We planned that out because this is a veteran team that we feel like can compete and handle it. All of our opponents have been very tough."

"Being able to mentally just grind through this tough part of the schedule will help us to get ready to accomplish our goals of winning the championship in the Ohio Valley, winning the tournament and going to a regional."

The schedule will only get more difficult in the coming days as the Trojans are playing a relentless portion of their schedule. Finding success against a tough Morehead State will be difficult, but it won't get any easier Tuesday when the team heads to Fayetteville for a matchup with the University of Arkansas, the No. 1-ranked team in the country.

"Of course they've done a great job year in and year out," Curry said of the Razorbacks. 'They're always top-five. They're very good. What we've been harping on and preaching is situational hitting, moving runners around, scoring runners from third with less than two out and not playing for the big hit all the time."

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