Crucial series against rival MTSU next for Hilltoppers

Chuch (22) tries to catch Austin Peay’s outfielder Cayce Bredleu (12) off base during WKU’s 6-5 win over Austin Peay Tuesday, April 28, 2015 at Nick Denes Field in Bowling Green, Ky. Mike Clark/HERALD

John Reecer

The WKU baseball team (22-20) will travel to Murfreesboro, Tennessee for a three game conference series against rival Middle Tennessee State (24-20) starting Friday night at 7 p.m. 

Currently, the Blue Raiders are on top of the Conference USA standings with a 15-6 record in league play while the Hilltoppers are battling to get into the conference tournament with a 9-12 record. 

“It’s a big series,” junior outfielder Anderson Miller said. “It’s even bigger because they used to be our rival in the Sun Belt. Last season we went 6-0 against them, so I’m sure they will have something cut out for us but we will be ready for them.”

The Blue Raiders are currently coming off an 11-3 loss against Lipscomb University while the Hilltoppers are coming off an extra inning victory over Austin Peay University.

WKU will have its hands full with junior pitcher Nate Hoffmann and junior outfielder Ronnie Jebavy. Hoffmann currently fields a 4-1 record and a 2.81 ERA in nine starts while Jebavy is currently hitting .350 on the season at the plate.      

Despite Hoffmann’s impressive season the Blue Raider pitching staff fields a team ERA of just 4.71 which could prove to be problematic against the Hilltopper lineup. 

“Late in the year the ball usually flies there at their ballpark,” Head Coach Matt Myers said. “So if we can go in there with some confidence with our offense I like our chances in that ball park.”

The series will also showcase a battle of strength as MTSU is currently 13-7 at home while the Hilltoppers prove to be very impressive on the road with wins over UK, Louisville and Mississippi State.  

“They are the best home team in the league as they have only lost one game at home in conference play,” Coach Myers said. “They may play well when they wear white, but we play well when we wear grey.”

With the Hilltoppers currently fighting for their postseason lives, a series win over the top team in the league could be huge after dropping a series sweep against then 16th ranked Rice University.

 A couple of victories against the Blue Raiders could possibly move WKU past the likes of UAB, FIU and Southern Miss who all stand at either nine or 10 conference victories. 

“We have got to keep our heads up and just get into the conference tournament,” Coach Myers said. “We are the best road team in this conference, which we have to use as advantage moving forward.”