Tops look forward to Louisiana Tech

Senior infielder Ryan Church prepares to catch a ball during the game between University of Kentucky at the Bowling Green Ballpark, March 24, 2015. The Hilltoppers won with a final score of 12-3. Emily Kask/HERALD

John Reecer

The WKU baseball team (13-13) will play its fourth Conference-USA series on the year this weekend with match-ups against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (11-13) in a three-game matchup in Ruston, Louisiana starting on Friday at 6 p.m.

The Hilltoppers go into the match-up fresh off a three-game series against UAB in which the Blazers defeated WKU in all three games. The Bulldogs are coming off a 17-12 victory over Grambling State. 

“Friday night we need (Ryan) Thurston to be Thurston, and on the other end I would like our offense to come out and win the first three innings, so then we have the lead and the team is thinking ‘here we go,’” Myers said. 

“You don’t want to be in a situation on Friday where you are down and you’re thinking ‘oh crap, how are we going to fix this.’

Yet even with the series sweep at the hands of the Blazers last weekend, Head Coach Matt Myers is not concerned with the team’s mentality and work rate. 

“Momentum—it’s funny—in college baseball it can come and go in one game, but I think the body of work that we put in over the last three weeks needs to overcome UAB,” Myers said. “Everyone always looks at the last game, and unfortunately, the UAB weekend has now overshadowed the great game that we had with Kentucky.

“If we would have come out and taken care of business, everyone would be saying ‘wow, what a great week.”

Louisiana Tech is currently last in the Conference-USA standings. The team is currently 1-7 in conference play with the only win coming in a 2-1 victory over Southern Mississippi. However, the Bulldogs are particularly strong at home this season with an 8-3 record in Ruston. 

Myers said while it is important for WKU to score early when they are on the road, it is the pitching staff that opens up offensive opportunities for the Hilltoppers to be successful down the stretch. 

“When you are on the road I think your pitching staff has got to be the one,” Myers said of who set the tone of the team. “I think at UTSA we grabbed a lead in those games early and just kind of rolled from there, but on the road you’ve really got to be able to pitch and then allow your offense to take it for you.”

The matchup could possibly feature high-scoring contests as both teams have ERA’s above 4.54. Both teams also can hit the baseball. The Bulldogs have five players with a batting average over .273 while the Hilltoppers have six. 

Power hitting could prove the difference. WKU currently has 21 home runs on the season compared to the Bulldog’s seven.  

If the games were to remain close down the wire, Myers believes the WKU bullpen is in a better position now more than any other point in the season to close out a game strong. 

“Our bullpen stands a lot better now, game 26, than games 1-10,” Myers said. “We are a lot more consistent, the weather has allowed us to be a lot more consistent, the guys are fitting in their roles really well now and everybody is making appearances so I think our team believes if we get to our bullpen, we are in pretty good shape.”

The series will be critical to the success of a Hilltoppers team that has battled inconsistency this season; defeating a ranked Mississippi State team on the road and a talented Kentucky team just last week, but dropping match-ups against the likes of Evansville and Belmont. 

Myers is looking to the pitching staff, as well as his group of seven seniors, to provide stability for the team as it hits the road. 


“You’re senior class—you have to make sure they are consistent no matter what the scenario, the environment, or the competition, because they will set the tone,” Myers said. 

Seniors Ryan Church and Cody Wofford have the capabilities of setting the tone as Myers has suggested.

Church holds a .260 batting average after 104 at bats while Wofford holds a .231 average after 104 at bats with a .365 slugging percentage. Though, freshman Kaleb Duckworth still leads the Hilltoppers with a batting average of .300 after 60 at bats with a .600 slugging percentage.

  “This past weekend I think our seniors were up and down, and they know that.  I think it is about our seniors getting out there Friday and get us going to where we need to be going.”