The University of Central Arkansas Bears are preparing for their sixth consecutive trip to the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament this week at Constellation Field in Sugar Land, Texas.
The Bears will be the fifth seed when they open play at 7 p.m. Wednesday against the fourth-seeded Houston Baptist Huskies. UCA won the SLC Tournament in 2013 at Constellation Field and was runnerup the next year when the tournament was played at Bear Stadium in Conway.
The Bears (31-24, 17-13) took two of three games from Nicholls State last weekend to earn its spot in the tournament field. UCA won at least 30 games for the third time in the past five seasons and tied its best SLC mark with the 17 league victories.
HBU enters the tournament with an 18-12 SLC record and a 26-23 overall mark. The Huskies were swept by Stephen F. Austin in their final regular-season series last weekend , a week after beating No. 3 seed Sam Houston State in three straight the previous weekend.
UCA beat HBU in their regular-season series back in early April in Houston, winning 4-3 on Friday, losing 5-3 on Saturday and then taking a 17-4 run-rule victory in the series finale on Sunday. .
The UCA-HBU winner will face the winner of No. 1 McNeese State and No. 8 Lamar at 7 p.m. Thursday. The losers of those two opening-round games will meet at noon Thursday in an elimination game. The other side of the bracket features No. 2 Southeastern Louisiana vs. No. 7 New Orleans and No. 3 Sam Houston State vs. No. 6 Stephen F. Austin.
The format for the tournament is two separate four-team brackets with the two bracket winners meeting in a winner-take-all championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday. The winner of the tournament will receive the Southland Conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The games will be be broaecast on KUCA 91.3 FM. All tournament games will be shown on ESPN3, available via watchespn.co