Esteban Bustillos

Baseball team looks to end unpredictable form in final stretch of regular season to prepare for post-season tourney

As the season starts to wind down, the baseball team is working to be more consistent as it makes a run for the ASC tournament.

The Comets have their eyes set on closing out the regular season at games with Louisiana College on April 17 and 18, a game against Texas Wesleyan on April 22 and a three-game home series against Mississippi College on April 25 and 26.

“Louisiana is always tough,” said head coach Shane Shewmake. “We’re playing them on the road, and you have to show up ready to play against those guys regardless of their record.”

UTD was 1-2 against the Wildcats last season, who rank in the lower half of the ASC this year.

The team will then return home to take on Texas Wesleyan in a nonconference matchup and Mississippi College in conference play. Both teams present a threat to UTD, as Wesleyan is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or NAIA, and can field scholarship athletes, a luxury the Comets do not have.

Mississippi, on the other hand, will be the next to last ASC opponent the Comets face this year.

“We need to put together a sweep,” said sophomore infielder Jimmy Norris. “That’s what our coach has been saying all year, not just to beat those teams, but to get up higher in the standings and (better our position) in the brackets when they come out.”

Norris, who has started every game for the Comets this season, has had a batting average of .356. He has also earned the ASC player of the week honors and was named to the d3baseball.com national team of the week earlier this season.

“Wesleyan is always good,” Shewmake said. “We’ll let some guys who haven’t gotten to play a whole lot this year play in that game to get them ready for the postseason. We have to show up ready to play against Mississippi College as well. They’re a quality team.”

UTD has been somewhat unpredictable in their play against opponents, beating conference frontrunners Concordia one day 4-1 and then losing to them the next day 2-12.

“We need to hit a hot point and pick everything up,” said junior second baseman Nick Marti. “We want to play as good as we can. That’s been our problem: We’ve played at other people’s ability. We need to play our game the whole time.”

Marti has averaged .319 at bat this season.  He also was named a Division III player of the week by d3baseball.com earlier this season.

As the team looks toward the postseason and the conference tournament, the Comets are focused on simply playing at the level that they know they can.

“If we’re hitting, we’re not pitching well. We need to do both of those at the same time,” Marti said. “We need to put everything together.”

The key to being successful after the regular season has ended is simple enough, Shewmake said.

“The main thing is just relax,” he said. “We have the talent, which we’ve proven when we’ve beaten some of the best teams in the conference.  When we play up to our ability, we’re as good as anybody.”

UTD’s regular season will come to a close on May 2 and 3 against conference rival Hardin-Simmons at home.