Arkansas On Deck

The Western Michigan University baseball team (0-3 overall) continues its season-opening spring trip this week. Western Michigan travels to Fayetteville, Ark. (March 4-5) for a two-game series against the University of Arkansas before heading to Lawrence, Kansas (March 7-9) for a three-game set versus Kansas University.

First pitch is 3:00 p.m. CST Tuesday and Wednesday from Baum Stadium at George Cole Field (3,000). Friday's opener from Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) is set for 3:00 p.m., followed by a pair of 1:00 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday.

The Broncos were swept by 25th-ranked Mississippi in a three-game series held Feb. 28-March 2 in Oxford. WMU played solid defensively Friday (8-2 L) and Saturday (5-1 L) before Ole Miss exploded with the bats on Sunday (15-4 L).

"That Mississippi club is a good team, I would be surprised if they're not competitive in the SEC," said WMU Head Coach Fred Decker, beginning his 28th season at WMU. "They were disciplined at the plate and their pitchers consistently were getting ahead of us in the count."

Western Michigan's road trip through the Southeastern Conference won't get any easier. Arkansas remains undefeated (8-0) following a three-game sweep of Illinois-Chicago. The Razorbacks are hitting .326, with four players above the .400 mark.

The Kansas Jayhawks (13-4) of the Big 12 Conference are just as formidable, ranking 17th in the Collegiate Baseball poll and 23rd in the Baseball America survey.

Decker's rotation against Arkansas will consist of senior south paw Pat Misch (0-1) and hard-throwing righty Keith Perez (0-0), who will make his first start since the 2000 season after sitting out last year with injury.

"We need to have good pitching performances out of Misch and Perez along with good defense, which is critical," says Decker. "From there, we can hopefully start executing on offense. We've got a young lineup and are looking for those kids to come around."

NOTES: Western Michigan went errorless in its first two games before suffering four miscues Sunday … SS Adam Rosales and OF Tom Fabrizio recorded back-to-back multiple-hit games versus Ole Miss. Fabrizio leads the team in batting (.400) while Rosales stands second (.308), having stroked a solo home run on Saturday … the Brown & Gold have struck out 29 times in three games …WMU's first 20 games will be played on the road leading up to its home opener April 4.

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