Toppers back to Nick Denes Field for Troy series

Senior infielder Casey Dykes collides with a Lipscomb runner while tagging him out at third base Wednesday at Dugan Field in Nashville. WKU won 4-3.

Kurt Carson

WKU finally returns home this weekend, coming off a nine-game road trip.

The Toppers (15-22, 6-9 Sun Belt Conference) return to Nick Denes Field this weekend as they host the Troy Trojans (16-20, 5-10), with the first game set for 6 p.m. Friday.

The Toppers’ last home game came with an 8-7 rubber-match victory over Arkansas-Little Rock on April 1.

Since then WKU has posted a record of 3-6 on the road.

Head Coach Matt Myers said it’ll feel good to finally be back at home for a while.

“We need to be at home,” Myers said. “I can’t wait to be at our field — advantage us.”

WKU has played just two of its five Sun Belt series at home, posting a 3-3 record in those games.

The Toppers started off the season with 14 of their first 16 games coming at home.

Senior center fielder Jared Andreoli said the past couple of weeks have been somewhat of the polar opposite to the start of the season.

“At the beginning of the year it felt like we weren’t on the road at all but now it seems like we haven’t been home in forever,” Andreoli said. “It’ll be great to be at home and in front of the home fans.”

WKU will try to enjoy the comfort of its own surroundings against a Trojans team that comes into the series having lost their last six games on the road.

Troy is currently 2-7 on the road in conference play and trails the Toppers by one game in the Sun Belt standings.

Myers said the Trojans shouldn’t be overlooked despite their struggles this season away from home.

“They’ve been up and down, but they’re good enough,” Myers said. “I don’t want to get them hot.”

Instead, he said he’s more focused on his team’s performance on the field, which lately has been inconsistent at best.

“I don’t really worry about our opponents because I think we’re as good as anybody,” Myers said. “It’s more about taking care of us.”

Myers pointed to the Trojans’ Friday night starter — senior right-hander Tyler Ray — to say that his team will have to be ready this weekend.

Ray went 12-0 one season ago with a 2.39 ERA while being named the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year.

“I can’t wait to play this Friday night, but we’ve got a tough assignment with Tyler Ray on the mound,” Myers said.

Offensively Troy is led by infielder Logan Pierce (.382 batting average, 4 home runs, 34 RBIs) and outfielder Boone Shear (.307, 7 home runs, 39 RBIs).

Senior right-hander Ross Hammonds said there’s also a little extra motivation given the past between Troy and WKU.

The Trojans swept the season series last year and beat the Toppers in the Sun Belt Tournament to end any hope of further advancement in the postseason for WKU.

Hammonds said Troy always has a solid team, which simply means they have to be ready to “come out and play.”

However, he said it definitely helps being back at home.

“We love playing at the Nick,” Hammonds said. “You’ve got home-field advantage, and you’ve got your home fans. Playing at home is a great feeling.”