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.
In yet another sign that this team was incredibly talented, yet misfired too often to become any sort of force, the Mavericks landed five all conference SBC selections: 1st teamers Darien McLemore and Brady Cox, 2nd teamers Kadon Simmons, Quintin Rohrbaugh and Colton Turner. Next on the list was Texas State with four.
UTA had the most all conference selections, yet finished in sole possession of seventh place...out of 11. SBC leaders Louisiana-Lafayette had three 1st teamers, plus the SBC freshman of the year while South Alabama had three first team selections with the pitcher of the year.
I think the season can have a simple summation, lack of pitching depth. UTA was either in charge the whole way, or trailing the whole way (the Texas State series opener notwithstanding). When leading after six innings, the Mavs were 27-2. When trailing, UTA record was 1-21. Kadon Simmons and Joel Kuhnel really held their own, but that also means no one else did on the other end.
That doesn't bode well for any tournament run. UTA opens with South Alabama and SBC pitcher of the year Kevin Hill. Kadon Simmons will start for the Mavs. As I've ended many of my baseball blog posts, UTA can do really well, especially in the front part of the tournament. But, I'm also not going to be surprised by a two and done either. That's just the kind of season it has been.