SEARCY, Ark. (KAIT) - Twelve games into the 2010 baseball season, the Harding Bisons had a 2-10 record. Since then the Bisons have won eight straight and open Gulf South Conference play this weekend as one of the hottest teams in the conference.
Harding will need to continue its improved play as they open GSC action on the road at Southern Arkansas, the third-ranked team in NCAA Division II by Collegiate Baseball Magazine. The series starts Saturday with a doubleheader at 3 p.m. and concludes Sunday with a single game at 1 p.m.
The Bisons' offense received a lift over the last 10 games with the insertion of freshman Paul Anzalone into the starting lineup. Anzalone is leading the team with a .516 batting average. He went 11-for-18 (.611) during Harding's five-game sweep of Waldorf.
Junior Jason Nappi has also continued his outstanding hitting. He is batting .453 and leading the team in runs scored (24) and RBI (17).
Harding's probable starters on the mound for the series at Southern Arkansas include sophomore Kyle Cline (2-2, 4.57 ERA), senior Troy Keith (1-1, 9.15) and junior Patrick Nappi (0-2, 10.06). Sophomores Alex Smith (2-1, 3.38) and Hayden Shirley (0-2, 8.82) have also been in the mix this season as starters.
Cline is the reigning GSC West Division Pitcher of the Week. Last week, he won two games and posted a 0.75 ERA.
Southern Arkansas enters the series 16-3 overall and winners of 11 of their last 12 games. Offensively, the Muleriders are led by Cannon Lester, who is hitting .458 and leading the team with 28 runs scored and 23 RBI.
The SAU pitching staff is led by junior Hayden Simpson, Baseball America's Preseason Pitcher of the Year. So far Simpson has lived up to the billing. He enters the weekend 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA. He has 35 strikeouts in 33 2/3 innings pitched.
Live statistics will be available on HardingSports.com. The Southern Arkansas radio broadcast will also be available at muleriderathletics.com.