Central Arkansas baseball and softball both have important series this weekend of different varieties.
For baseball, the story continues to be whether the Bears (14-21, 9-15 Southland Conference), who sit in 11th place in the SLC, can dig themselves out of the hole they created to get into the SLC Tournament.
For softball, UCA dropped into third after a tough series against Stephen F. Austin last weekend and will play the second-place Southeastern Louisiana (28-17, 15-6 SLC).
Bears softball has been rolling during the conference season until the past two series against Houston Baptist and SFA.
UCA dropped two of three in both series, which dropped the Bears from second to third in the conference standings with just two series left in the regular season.
This weekend’s series is a big one as UCA matches up with the second-place Southeastern Louisiana Lions (26-16, 13-5 SLC) in Hammond, Louisiana.
The Lions have lost just one conference series and it was against Sam Houston State on April 17 and 18, dropping the final two games of the series after winning game one 13-0.
After that series, SLU has played just two games since; a 7-1 win April 21 over Louisiana-Monroe and then an 8-0 win April 27 over Southern.
The Lions’ three game-series last weekend against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was canceled.
On the season, SLU sits fourth in the SLC in batting average – one spot behind UCA – with a .290 batting average.
The Lions sit seventh in the conference in team ERA with a 3.84 ERA.
Freshman Audrey Greely leads SLU offensively, hitting .400, getting on base at a .496 clip and is slugging .580.
She has hit three home runs on the season and is second on the team in RBI with 20.
Junior pitcher Heather Zumo is leading the pitching staff with a 15-3 record in 29 appearances with 19 starts.
She holds a 1.98 ERA, has thrown eight complete games, struck out 124 batters, walked 41, given up 48 runs (35 earned) on 98 hits in 124.0 innings pitched.
The two teams will meet for a Friday doubleheader and a single game Saturday in Hammond, Louisiana, with game times scheduled at 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday.
The baseball Bears won their first conference series of the season this past weekend in a four-game home series against Stephen F. Austin, taking three of four from the Lumberjacks.
Prior to the SFA series, UCA had been swept in the previous two series and had split every conference series before the two sweeps.
But this weekend’s series is a tall task as the Bears (14-21, 9-15 SLC) welcome third-place Northwestern State (21-17, 15-9 SLC) to Bear Stadium for a four-game series.
The Demons come to town fresh off a four-game sweep of the eighth-place Nicholls Colonels.
Northwestern State won with ease the first two games of the series, taking game one 7-3 and game two 13-6, before playing tightly contested games in the third and fourth games of the series.
The Demons knocked off the Colonels 3-2 and 2-1 to finish off the series sweep last Sunday.
On the season, Northwestern State is getting it done with its pitching, which ranks second in the SLC behind Lamar with a 4.02 ERA, compared to UCA’s 5.57 ERA.
Offensively, the Demons rank second to last with a .222 batting average.
Despite the low average, freshman Daunte Stuart leads the team in batting average, hitting .292, while hitting a team-leading six home runs and knocking in 23 RBI.
On the mound, sophomore Cal Carver leads the weekend starters with a 3.54 ERA.
The Bears and Demons get their series underway at 6 p.m. Friday, followed by a Saturday doubleheader scheduled to start at 1 p.m. and rounding out the series with a 1 p.m. start time Sunday.
All baseball games will be broadcast on 91.3 FM with Steve Owens on the call.