WKU heads to South Alabama with top SBC spot at stake

Austin Lanter

For the fifth consecutive week, the WKU baseball team is sitting in first place of the Sun Belt Conference, but the Toppers are not alone.

This week two other teams are tied with the WKU (20-17, 10-5 SBC) — Florida Atlantic and South Alabama, who also boast conference records of 10-5.

That will change this weekend, however, as WKU travels to Mobile, Ala., for a three-game series with the Jaguars of South Alabama.

Coach Matt Myers said he wants his team to appreciate the position they are in.

“I want them be in this moment right now that they’re in,” coach Matt Myers said. “They’ve earned the opportunity to be in first place. No one’s given us anything. I want our guys to be grounded, yes, but I want them to enjoy this.”

So far this season, WKU has played to its opponents level of competition, playing good teams well and other teams not so well, according to Myers.

Luckily for the Toppers, the Jaguars are a good team that is playing well right now, coming off a 2-0 loss to sixth-ranked Florida State and being ranked in the top 30.

However, Myers said he is just trying to have his club focus on the game of baseball itself.

“We’re trying to get them to respect the game,” Myers said. “I told them last night you get 27 outs and so does the other team. You play your 27 outs and they play theirs.”

There is no mistaking it, though — with first place on the line, the series with USA is a big one.

According to senior catcher Devin Kelly, though, the team is treating it the same as any other.

He also said that the team just tries to play Topper baseball every game and take it one game at a time.

“We try not to (make one series bigger than another),” Kelly said. “We’ve got Friday first, take the win then, and it’s day-by-day. We just have to worry about what we do and play to our strengths and not worry about what they do.”

The Toppers are also coming off of a big series win against Troy, taking two of three from the Trojans. The series win marked the first time ever that WKU was able to win two straight series against Troy.

However, WKU dropped a mid-week game on Tuesday falling, to Lipscomb 2-0 on the road.

Likewise, the Jaguars lost their mid-week game to Florida State, but did sweep Arkansas State last weekend, including a 20-2 win on Saturday.

WKU dropped two of three at ASU, but rebounded two days later in a win over eighth ranked Louisville.

“We just have to go out and play baseball…it shouldn’t matter what name is on the front of that jersey, you still have to play baseball the right way because the game always knows,” Kelly said.

The first game of the series will be Friday at 6 p.m. with the second Saturday at 6 p.m. and the third game Sunday at 1 p.m.

WKU is expected to send its usual weekend pitchers to the mound — juniors Tanner Perkins and Andrew Edwards and senior Tim Bado — for the three games in that order.