UALR TROJANS vs. SOUTH ALABAMA
Little Rock, Ark. (Gary Hogan Field)
live audio/video available at www.UALRTrojans.com
Probable Pitching Matchups
GM34 - Friday, April 13 - 6 PM
UALR - #21 Chance Cleveland • RHP • Junior
6-2, 2.98 ERA, 54.1 IP, 59 K's
USA - #32 Phillip Byrd • LHP • Senior
3-1, 4.23 ERA, 38.1 IP, 35 K's
GM35 - Saturday, April 14 - 4 PM
UALR - #24 Blake Huffman • RHP • Junior
3-3, 5.48 ERA, 42.2 IP, 44 K's
USA - #36 Dillon Buhrkuhl • RHP • Sophomore
1-3, 6.23 ERA, 30.1 IP, 17 K's
GM36 - Sunday, April 15 - 1 PM
USA - #33 Jarron Cito • RHP • Junior
3-3, 5.95 ERA, 42.1 IP, 35 K's
UALR (16-17, 3-9 SBC) returns to Gary Hogan Field this weekend for a three-game set with South Alabama (12-21, 7-5) ... The Trojans will look to snap a seven-game losing streak when junior Chance Cleveland (6-2, 2.98 ERA) squares off against USA's Phillip Byrd (3-1, 4.23 ERA) on Friday night ... Cleveland leads the Sun Belt with 59 strikeouts over 54.1 innings, and is tied for the conference lead with six victories ... UALR entered Sun Belt play with a 13-5 overall record, but has gone 3-12 since that point, with four extra-inning losses ... After opening the year with a 2-0 record in one-run ballgames, the Trojans have dropped six-straight games decided by a run (five in conference play) to fall to 2-6 in said games ... UALR returns to Little Rock this weekend for just its second Sun Belt home series of the year, having taken two-of-three from Troy during its first home stand (March 23-25) ... Despite the team's recent struggles, the Trojans are ranked in the top-6 nationally in six offensive categories and lead the Sun Belt in nine ... Senior Sean Bignall is tied for second place nationally with a Sun Belt-best 12 home runs ... Bignall also ranks eighth in the country in slugging percentage (.748), fourth in RBI (44), sixth in total bases (95) and 10th in OPS (1.192) ... Following this weekend's action, the Trojans travel to Miami to take on Florida International (April 20-22).
SCOUTING THE JAGUARS
South Alabama (12-21, 7-5) comes into the weekend tied for fourth place in the Sun Belt standings with a 7-5 league mark ... The Jaguars earned series wins over ULM (3-0) and Troy (2-1) before losing two-of-three to both Middle Tennessee and Florida Atlantic ... USA is 3-7 over its last 10 games, and has dropped six of its last seven contests ... The Jaguars are 7-11 on the road this year, including a 4-2 road record in league play ... South Alabama is batting just .259 on the year, but has seen that number rise to a .321 clip in conference action (2nd in the SBC) ... Dustin Dalken is batting .455 over 33 at-bats in league play, with a .526 on-base percentage and a .758 slugging percentage ... Nick Zaharion leads the team with a .322 batting average on the year, and has hit five of his six home runs in conference play ... Opposing hitters are batting .301 against USA this year, a number which climbs to .340 in league games.
ALL-TIME VS SOUTH ALABAMA
South Alabama holds a 56-9 lead in the all-time series with UALR, and has never dropped a series to the Trojans ... The Jaguars have won seven straight over UALR, having swept the Trojans in both 2010 and 2011 ... UALR's last win over USA came on April 11, 2009 - a 5-3 victory in Mobile ... The Jaguars are 25-3 all-time in Little Rock, and have won five straight at Gary Hogan Field ... Head coach Scott Norwood is 1-8 all-time versus South Alabama.
IN A LEAGUE OF HIS OWN
Senior Sean Bignall continues to lead the SBC in homers (12), RBI (44), runs (37), total bases (95) and slugging percentage (.748) ... The Brampton, Ontario, Canada-native is tied for second in the country in HRs, while ranking fourth in RBI, sixth in total bases, eighth in slugging percentage and 10th in OPS (1.192) ... He became the first player to win back-to-back SBC Player of the Week awards since 2009 when he took home the honor March 5 and March 12 ... In UALR's 20-8 win over South Dakota State on March 7, Bignall went 4-for-5 at the plate with three home runs, a double, six RBI and four runs scored ... His effort against SDSU tied the school record for homers and established a new standard for total bases with 14.
HEAD OF THE CLASS
The UALR bats lead the Sun Belt Conference in virtually every offensive category through 33 games ... The Trojans have put up a conference-best 246 runs, 220 RBI, 35 home runs, 71 doubles, 15 triples, 341 hits and 547 total bases ... UALR's .472 slugging percentage and .399 on-base percentage are also tops in the Sun Belt ... On the flip side, UALR has struck out a league-high 291 times this year, and has also grounded into more double plays (27) and been caught stealing more times (21) than any other Sun Belt school.
UALR's offense heads into the weekend series ranked in the top-10 nationally in six statistical categories ... The Trojans are seventh in both home runs (35) and total bases (548) ... UALR also ranks eighth in slugging percentage (.472) and OPS (.871), and sits 10th in runs scored (246) and triples (15) ... UALR is averaging 7.5 runs per game and hitting .295 on the year, but those numbers drop to 4.0 runs per game in conference play with a .241 batting average.
THE .300 CLUB
The UALR lineup currently features five regulars hitting .300 or better ... Senior Cameron Bentley leads the team and ranks sixth in the Sun Belt with a .356 batting average, followed by senior Sean Bignall at .346 (11th in the SBC) ... Junior Blake Johnson and sophomore Ben Crumpton are batting .333 and .324, respectively, followed by junior Chris Burk at .313 ... Bignall and Bentley are both showing remarkable improvement over their 2010 averages, as Bignall is hitting 102 points higher than last year's .244 average, while Bentley is 76 points up on last season's .280 clip ... Bentley leads the team with a .327 batting average in conference play.
ACE IN THE HOLE
Junior Chance Cleveland (6-2) has been the ace UALR desperately needed this season after losing every starting pitcher off last year's Sun Belt Championship squad ... Cleveland heads into the USA series leading the Sun Belt in strikeouts (59), while sharing the lead league with six wins ... The Pine Bluff, Ark.-native sports a 2.98 ERA on the year and is holding opposing hitters to a .217 batting average ... He has racked up 59 strikeouts in 54.1 innings while issuing just 14 walks for a 4.2-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio ... Cleveland was named the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week on March 26 after striking out a career-high 12 batters to lead UALR to a 5-3 win over Troy.
HEAD COACH SCOTT NORWOOD
Head coach Scott Norwood came to UALR prior to the 2009 season looking to transform a struggling baseball program and needed just three years to make history ... In his third season at the helm, Norwood guided UALR to the school's first-ever Sun Belt Tournament Championship and NCAA Regional appearance ... Norwood's success should hardly come as a surprise though, considering his history of rebuilding baseball programs ... Prior to coming to UALR, Norwood spent four seasons at Ouachita Baptist, where he quickly transformed a program which won a combined 45 games in the five years prior to his arrival into a national powerhouse - culminating with a runner-up finish at the 2008 NCAA Division II World Series ... Norwood guided the Tigers past No. 1 Delta State in the 2008 NCAA South Central Regional championship game to give OBU the school's first-ever World Series berth ... After going 16-34 in his first season at UALR, Norwood guided the Trojans to a 29-25 record in 2010 - UALR's first winning season since 2003 ... The 11-game turnaround placed UALR 11th nationally ... In addition to its 11-game improvement, UALR saw its RPI ranking rise by nearly 100 points in Norwood's second season, climbing from a 233 ranking in 2009 to a 140 ranking in 2010 ... Prior to taking over at UALR, Norwood compiled a 158-77 record (.672 pct.) in four seasons at OBU, including an astounding 101-26 mark over the final two years (.795) ... In his 12th season as a head coach, Norwood has a lifetime record of 374-250 (.599 pct.).