3 key factors that could make or break UTA baseball’s road slate

Junior outfielder Phillip Childs adjusts his compression sleeve during a game against Coastal Carolina University on April 10 at Clay Gould Ballpark.

The baseball team (14-18, 5-4) returns to the diamond in a three-game series against Arkansas State University starting 6 p.m. Friday at Tomlinson Stadium-Kell Field in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

UTA will continue their slate of road games with a rematch against No. 12 TCU at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Lupton Baseball Stadium at Williams-Reilly Field in Fort Worth.

Here are three keys for the Mavericks that could help the team achieve a winning record by the end of the road schedule.

1. Ace in the hole

Among the pitching staff, junior pitcher Kody Bullard has shown the most consistency throughout the season. He has the lowest earned run average among starters on the team at 2.64.

Bullard has also been productive in keeping the ball in the park, having gone seven of his eight outings without allowing a home run.

In Bullard’s most recent outing April 11 against Coastal Carolina University, he finished with a career-high eight innings pitched, allowing five hits and two earned runs and striking out six.

UTA was able to keep the TCU offense limited in their first meeting March 30. The Mavericks trailed 3-2 through seven innings and eventually fell to the Horned Frogs 5-3.

Bullard’s performance will be a key for setting the tone for UTA through the week.

2. Put the ball in play early and often

UTA has consistently put runs on the board over the previous seven games, scoring five or more runs in each.

The Mavericks must sustain that success over the weekend against Arkansas State, which owns the worst fielding percentage number in the Sun Belt Conference at .954.

On the other end of the spectrum, TCU is tied for the second-best fielding percentage in the Big 12 Conference at a .975 rate.

Putting the ball in play will give UTA a chance to string together hits and runs. Applying the pressure to Arkansas State and TCU’s defenses will be a key in generating runs.

3. Take advantage of Arkansas State's inconsistent performance

As a team, the Red Wolves have been sporadic in their performances throughout the season.

The Red Wolves own the worst earned run average in the conference at 8.99. However, Arkansas State has been capable of scoring runs.

Arkansas State has six wins where they scored double-digit runs, headlined by a 15-14 win over Oklahoma University and a 16-11 win against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

The Red Wolves have eight games where they allowed 10 or more runs, giving up 21 runs to University of Tennessee-Martin on Feb. 27 and 26 runs against Abilene Christian University on March 5.

Inconsistent or not, UTA must be prepared for an offense and pitching staff that can score and give up runs in bunches.

@D_Tineo4

sports-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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