Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Last Out Recorded on Baseball's Season

Going to the final series of the season, UTA had a chance to really make a play and advance to the top of the standings. They could have advanced as high as the third seed with major help or finished as low as seventh. Had they won the series versus Texas State, they would have at least been tied for fifth.

As it was, the season ended much like it has been all year, full of promise yet ultimately disappointing. In the first two  against the Bobcats, UTA either led or were tied in 20 of the 21 innings. The one inning they ended trailing was the last one of game one, meaning they thoroughly dominated the first two games but ended with a split.

The third game, with the series on the line and a minimum of the sixth seed, UTA promptly gives up at least a run in the first three innings on the way to a 5-0 deficit. The Sun Belt Conference's second leading offense by batting average (and RBI, total bases, at-bats, while #1 in hits and triples) put zeroes up until the eighth. They had left three runners in scoring position and hit in a double play during the seven shut out innings. The eighth saw an RBI single. However, an unfortunate double-play ended the inning with another runner in scoring position. In the ninth, UTA scored another run with one out, got two runners on base. Yet, two straight outs ended the Mavs season with a whimper.

So if you were scoring at home, UTA could have shot as high as third (with a lot of help), could have finished fourth with a sweep at home and the other results staying the same and as low as seventh, finished seventh.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Here We Go Again

It was all set up for the UT Arlington baseball team to do what the needed to do. Kadon Simmons, part of a big one-two punch for UTA starting pitching, goes 7 innings giving up two earned runs and leaves in a tie game. Dylan Schnieder comes in, pitches an inning of shut-out baseball and the Mavericks claim the lead. UTA enters the top of the ninth with a one-run lead.

Before I go further, I have detailed, far more than I wish was needed, how the Mavericks are one pitch, one hit or one bad inning away from being a great team (11 games here, another one here and the last time here). I've detailed eight Sun Belt games and a total of 13 with this pattern. Is this post going to follow that trend or deviate like last week's did.

No, it will be more of the same.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Great Weekend for Baseball

Glad to finally have an entry for baseball that doesn't mentioned a missed opportunity. UT Arlington's baseball team swept the last-place Appalachian State Mountaineers, and did it by the basic formula I mentioned in the last post.

Kadon Simmons looked rough early in game one, giving up a homer and a two-RBI hit in the first inning, but finished the first and would retire 17 in a row. He got one out in the ninth before running into trouble. In comes Jacob Moreland, who put the go-ahead run at second before getting a ground out to end it. With the win, Simmons moved to 9-4 on the year.

Joel Kuhnel did his part in game two, going six strong innings and exited with a 3-1 lead. Jacob Moreland started the seventh and did well before giving up four singles in the ninth tie the game. The Mavs offense, held scoreless in eight of the nine regulation innings, scored five in the extra frame. That relieves the pressure on Moreland, who closes the game for the win.

Game three had something UTA hadn't played for much this year, a three-game sweep. UTA tried twice before, losing to Arkansas State 4-0 on March 13 and Georgia State 8-7 on April 3. The offense scored in four different innings against App, including a four-spot in the fifth. Bases were empty with two outs. Christian Hollie swings at strike three that could have ended it, but gets on first due to a wild pitch. Brady Cox then got a walk, Quintin Rohrbaugh then doubled scoring Hollie, and Colton Turner hit a three-run homer to clear the bags.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


In a very overdue post, I'd like to take a look at the UT Arlington softball team, which, at 29-19, enjoyed their first winning season since 2011. This team is one of the hardest for me to talk about because of their circumstances. I'll get into the meat and potatoes of the season in a bit, but let's look at what makes this team unique versus the other 13 teams at UTA.

Like a couple of other teams in the Athletic Department, softball entered the realignment period in rebuilding mode. UTA finished their last year in the Southland Conference tied for last, going 15-27, 5-15 in SLC play. UTA's first and only year in the Western Athletic Conference, also the first year of Coach Kristi Fox, saw another losing season, this one at 25-28, but 9-15 in WAC play, good for a tie for sixth out of eight teams. In 2014, they were 21-33 overall and 5-17 in Sun Belt play. Last year, they finished 27-28 and 8-14 in the SBC.

While their improvement can sorta be seen in the numbers, they've finished .500 or better in non-conference play every year since leaving the Southland, what can't be seen is the challenge in rebuilding a program at the time the Mavericks were.

The Sun Belt is one of the best softball conferences in the country, rated sixth-to-seventh right now. The SLC was a good conference, but never a great one, they are in the mid-teens currently. The SLC has never had more than one team in the NCAA Tournament, even when the regular season champion doesn't win the conference tournament. The SBC has done it six times, including the last four years. In 2013, they sent three teams and some projections are predicting three teams this year.

Monday, May 9, 2016

7th Inning Stretch

Seems I have egg on my face...again. After pointing out another missed opportunity in game 1 against Little Rock on the road, the UT Arlington baseball team took the next two games to claim the series. That happened against Troy as well. But, I was glad to see them bounce back then, and was again this weekend.

UTA did it by breaking out the big bats and scoring 21 runs en route to a 21-8 win in game two. A solid, but not quite five inning, start from Jake Wilcox paved the way for Jacob Moreland to come out of the pen and pitch the rest of the way for 6-4 win. In that game, the Mavs did exactly what I have wanted the whole season and combine timely hitting with consistent pitching. In both games, they got hits when runners were in scoring position. In game three, UTA scattered the hits and avoided the big inning when on the mound. It was an added bonus that Kadon Simmons pitched an eight inning complete game in the loss and Joel Kuhnel pitched seven innings in game two. That kept the pen rested and allowed Moreland to stay in as long as he was effective, which proved to be quite a bit in game three.

Bottom line, taken as a whole, the Little Rock series showed exactly what the Mavs need to do the rest of the way. There are no more mid-week games to worry about. The season has six conference games and the conference tournament left. Those six games will have a lot to say about how UTA is seeded in the Sun Belt Conference tournament.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Never Ending Song

This year I have typed this and this.

Against Little Rock yesterday, UTA had 10 hits to the Trojans six.

UTA had base runners in seven of nine innings.

UTA left seven runners in scoring position.

UTA held Little Rock scoreless in all but one inning.

UTA gives up two home runs, accounting for every Trojan run.

Like the other 12 losses where I've noticed this trend (one bad pitching inning and/or one missed hit away), UTA could have easily won. At a record of 23-24, UTA could easily be one of the top teams in the conference. As it is, a spot in the conference tournament is not guaranteed.

I wonder how long this can be tolerated. I'm beginning to expect this outcome, one where we come up just short, rather than thinking we are going to win. Sad.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April Quick Hits

A roadblock I have with this blog: I recognize some great things have happened with the Athletic Department, yet I don't know how to say much more than good job or this occured. And as I mentioned in the early days of this blog, I am not a source of news, but rather commentary about the UTA Mavs.

So with commentary as the goal, how do you talk about something that may not have great strategy moments and would be saying this happened, making it essentially a news post?

I have done this blog for a couple of months shy of three athletic seasons. Something that surprised me initially, but has been the rule - I write more in the fall than I do in the spring, despite the relative lack of fall activity at UTA compared to the spring.

As I was pondering this, and feeling a bit guilty for not getting into the many deserving sports that have had success, I came up with an idea, one so original that it has been in use since the beginning of media. So today marks the debut of Maverick Quick Hits.