MONTICELLO — Looking ahead on the schedule is not something Arkansas-Monticello softball coach Alvy Early likes to do.
But with three more Great American Conference showdowns remaining on the 2012 schedule and the Cotton Blossoms sitting atop the standings with a 12-2 conference record, Early understands the importance of each outing.
“We are in a position to control our own destiny,” Early said in a phone interview following Thursday afternoon’s practice. “I think we have a target on our back every time we go out.”
If the Blossoms have that target implanted on their backs, the competition has missed during the past few weeks as UAM (26-10) is riding a 12-game winning streak, dating back to its March 18 doubleheader wins over Southern Arkansas.
The Blossoms have since swept a pair of four-game sets, the first over Henderson State and most recently against Ouachita Baptist.
UAM will put that winning streak on the line against Arkansas Tech (14-18, 8-10 GAC) at 1 p.m. today in Monticello with Saturday’s noon start concluding the weekend series.
Coach John Harvey and the Boll Weevils have lost five straight entering this weekend’s three-game GAC series at Arkansas Tech in Russellville.
UAM (14-19, 3-11 GAC) is currently ninth in the conference standings but Harvey is not counting the Weevils out of postseason contention.
“We are still in position to advance,” Harvey said. “Anybody can beat anybody in this conference.”
Harvey cited a combination of lackluster hitting and poor pitching as reasons behind the program’s struggles.
“Some games it’s pitching and some games it’s hitting,” he said. “We can’t seem to put it all together in one game. Either we pitch well or we hit well. We had a 9-2 lead against Ouachita and then pitching couldn’t hold it.”
Harvey believes the Weevils can still advance as one of the top six teams in the league.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Harvey said. “The guys definitely understand that. We came into the season with high expectations and we are not going to give up. Team chemistry is not a problem. It just comes down to we either pitch well and don’t hit or we hit well and don’t pitch.”
With one more event on the schedule before the season-ending GAC Tournament in Hot Springs, UAM golf coach Heather Wall is still looking for consistency out of the men’s and women’s golf teams.
With the women sitting in the clubhouse until the season finale, the men turned in a 331-332—663 in this past week’s Southern Arkansas Classic in Texarkana. Jordan Christensen was low scorer for the Weevils, carding a 79-78—157 during the two-day event.
Christensen will again play in the No. 1 position at next week’s Natural State Golf Classic in Heber Springs, with Jared Blasengame, Jessie Smith, Star City’s Jacob McGhee and Josh Tomlinson filling out the lineup.