El Dorado News-Times

SouthArk aiming to build on sweep

- By Jason Avery

The first home series of the season was a profitable one for South Arkansas Community College.

The Stars (8-4) swept all four games against Holmes (Miss.) and Twin City Post Grad with their offense scoring 46 runs in the sweep.

The Stars banged out 40 hits in the four games, including 21 extra-base hits.

As part of their barrage, the Stars hit eight home runs en route to scoring double digits in three of the four games.

Clay Burrows connected for his first two home runs of the season, and Beau Kuttenkule­r followed a big weekend in Texas by hitting two more home runs.

“We had a couple of guys get out of a little funk,” SouthArk coach Cannon Lester said.

“I know Clay Burrows had been struggling a little bit, and he hit two big home runs and had a couple of more hits and found a lot of barrels. Beau Kuttenkule­r kept it going.

“He hit a no-doubter against Holmes and then in the last inning against Twin City, he hit a big opposite-field homer to tie it up.

“There were a lot of guys throughout the weekend that I thought swung the bat really well, so that was really exciting to see.”

Walks have also become a focal point for the Stars.

Through 12 games, the Stars have collected 72 free passes with Roc Hawthorne, Jacob Ambriz and Kuttenkule­r all having more walks than strikeouts early on.

“I’ve been happy about that,” Lester said. “We’ve been logging our at-bats on this little system that we have.

“When a lot of guys go into a funk, it’s not so much mechanics, it’s just swinging at bad pitches and taking good ones.

“That’s really been our focus is swinging at good pitches and do damage on them, not to just dink.

“We want to bomb that thing a little bit as evidenced by what we did this weekend. It was good to finally get that going,

but we've taken a lot of walks.

“I think we might be second or third in the nation in getting hit by pitches. Our on-base percentage is really high, so I really like that, putting pressure on teams by getting a lot of guys on base, so that's been exciting.”

The Stars' bullpen was busy last weekend, collecting three wins with Trey Miller picking up a three-inning save to finish the sweep of Holmes.

“They've thrown really well,” Lester said. “I think Aaron got up to 92 (miles per hour) the other day. He finally threw the way we've been expecting him to throw.

“He hasn't been bad and his numbers have been fine, but he's been a little shaky. It was good to get him going again. Trey Miller has been dynamite so far.

“He had a three-inning save and I think he gave up his first runs this weekend, but he was dynamite.

“Kadyn Howard was really good again. He keeps getting better. We brought Jack Moody in the last inning and he got a big hold there against Twin City.

“We were down two, and he gave us a seven-pitch inning and all of the momentum and we came in and scored two and walked it off. There's a couple more in there that threw the ball pretty well.”

But while the bullpen has been solid, Kade Lively and Hunter Royal each had short stints in their starts with each working just 3 2/3 innings last weekend, but Lester said he has plenty of confidence that each will turn things around.

“I think we're going to keep working with him,” Lester said of Lively. “Kade threw Game 1 for us last year. He was our best pitcher by far this fall.

“It just hasn't gone right for him yet. We're going to keep throwing him out there, and I think he's going to stay tough and keep working through it.

“It's kind of like hitting. You have your phases where you can't find the breaking ball and I think he'll get it back. Up to last weekend, I though Hunter had thrown the ball really well.

“He got hit a couple of times, but I thought he had a little bad luck on Saturday. He worked through it a little bit and stayed tough. I think he's going to be fine.”

The Stars have also gotten a big contributi­on early on from Christian Clayson, who transferre­d from LouisianaM­onroe.

Clayson picked up his second win with a five-inning complete game against Twin City Post Grad.

He finished with a four-hitter, walked one and struck out six while lowering his ERA to 2.81 in a 13-3 win.

“Christian Clayson got up to 93 this weekend, and he has really started to turn the corner as far as stuff and really filling it up,” Lester said. “I think Kade is going to be fine and Hunter's misses are a lot better than they used to be, so we really like where that's heading.

“We also know that if it's not their day, we can get them out in the second and we still feel pretty good about the number of guys we have in the bullpen and the time we have to come back the rest of the game.”

Lester has also preached patience to those who haven't gotten the opportunit­y to see game action as of yet.

“This was our first time to have a fourgame series, and that's what we play in conference, so that was good for those guys to see that it can get long,” Lester said.

“You use a lot of arms. Jack Moody sat for pretty much 25, 26, 27 innings straight, and all of a sudden, we needed him in that last inning. He came in and got seven pitches and gave us all of the momentum. We've been showing them that their time is coming. We haven't had many four-game series and they can get wild quick, so you've got to be ready to go.”

Lester added that no final decision has been made on potential players redshirtin­g this season.

“We're trying to give it a little bit,” Lester said. “Alex Showalter got in there the other day and had two big hits, so his redshirt is definitely off. Some other guys in there we're still not quite sure about.

“There's an arm or two that we haven't thrown yet, but we think just depending on some guys whether or not we're going to use them or not. We're just waiting to see.

“We're 12 games in, so we're a little bit into it now. We think we see where it's headed, but for some reason if someone gets hurt, it could be the next guy up.”

The Stars will be back in action today with a home doublehead­er against TCS Post Grad with game time set for 1 p.m.

Lester said Lively and Royal will be the starters for the two games.

“They're a big post grad that's been around for a long time, and I think I saw where they've already beaten three or four Division I JUCO's,” Lester said.

“They have a lot of transfers, a lot of guys that are a little bit older. They've got a great developmen­t program. They've got dorms, they've got a weight room, they've got their own classroom, their own two fields, their own cafeteria. It's a really cool setup they've got going on.

“Not only are they going to be good to play against because they have arms that are pretty good, but some guys that we might try to get for next year as well, so it's kind of a two-way street.”

 ?? Heath Waldrop/Special to the News-Times ?? Stars return to diamond: South Arkansas Community College infielder Trace Shoup, a former standout at Parkers Chapel, competes during the Stars’ contest against Twin City Post Grad Sunday in El Dorado. The Stars host TCS Post Grad today in a doublehead­er with the action set to start at 1 p.m.
Heath Waldrop/Special to the News-Times Stars return to diamond: South Arkansas Community College infielder Trace Shoup, a former standout at Parkers Chapel, competes during the Stars’ contest against Twin City Post Grad Sunday in El Dorado. The Stars host TCS Post Grad today in a doublehead­er with the action set to start at 1 p.m.

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