Trojans host Sun Belt-leading WKU Hilltoppers

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, March 19, 2009

The defending Sun Belt Conference Tournament champions and conference-leading Western Kentucky Hilltoppers are in Troy this weekend for a series with the Trojans.

Western Kentucky (12-5, 6-0) comes to Troy with the highest team batting average and fielding percentage in the league. The Hilltoppers are in the middle of the pack in team pitching, but they have faced three SEC schools in out-of-conference play.

“They have had a very good start and especially in the conference at 6-0,” Troy head coach Bobby Pierce said. “They are a very balanced team and are deserving of the No. 1 preseason ranking.”

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WKU has at least one player in the Top-4 of every statistical category listed on the Sun Belt Web site.

But Pierce said the Trojans have a key element on their side.

“All that said, we are at home and we need to find a way to get our game going against a great team,” Pierce said. “We need to wake up the bats. We haven’t played extremely well recently and you will have periods like that in baseball. We were lucky to have a non-conference series last weekend during this period, but we hope we can start to move forward this weekend.”

The Trojans bats may be cold, but their pitching staff still ranks as the No. 3 pitching staff, as far as earned run average is concerned, in the league.

Pierce said the Trojans may have lost three of their last five games, but he said his team is always looking for that game that will turn the cold streak around.

“We have a lot of confidence in our team and it is our job to let the players know they need to focus on what they can control,” Pierce said. “Our challenge is to play as well as you can play and if the chips fall we will have a chance.”

The Trojans will go with Jason Walls on the mound Friday, Tyler Ray Saturday and Travis Burge Sunday.

First pitch for the Friday and Saturday games is set for 6 p.m. and the Sunday matchup is set for a 1 p.m. start.