Central Arkansas Christian won its 7-4A opener in baseball last week, 10-2 over Pulaski Robinson.
For the week, Ryan Stauder’s Mustangs went 2-1 as they headed into spring break, falling to Class 5A Greenbrier, 10-6, and beating Robinson and Abundant Life, 10-4. They were 4-6 overall before this week’s hiatus and will resume conference play Monday, March 25, when they play host to Arkansas Baptist.
"Baptist graduated a lot, but we will have a few guys gone," Stauder said Sunday, referring to a few players on a school trip to Europe as well as a few injuries, most notably senior catcher Travis Byrne, who dislocated a shoulder against Pulaski Academy. "We’ll have four or five starters missing, so it could be interesting.
"Their coach tells me they’re going to be young, but they’ll be decent; they always are. I don’t know a lot about them, but they’ve got very few seniors and not a lot of pitching back, but they’ll be tough. They’re well-coached."
He said his team started off a bit slowly against Robinson, but the Mustangs got good pitching from senior Joey Pinney, who gave up two runs and two hits in the complete game.
"He was pretty dominant on the mound," Stauder said. "We had a few errors, which allowed some runs, but overall, we played pretty well. Defense is what has hurt us all year, but we hope to have it cleaned up by the time we play some of the better teams in the conference."
Greenbrier was one of those games where the Mustangs didn’t play great defense, although they hit the ball well, the coach said. Jack Thomas started, but errors put him in a hole.
"We battled back several times, and they scored four late," Stauder said of the Panthers. "They did a good job executing small ball."
The Mustangs were also short-handed heading into spring break in their 10-4 win over Abundant Life, but they only committed one error.
"We had basically the same team we’ll have for (Arkansas Baptist)," Stauder said. "It will be interesting to see how they respond to a better team."
Stauder said Byrne was out indefinitely. Last year, he missed several weeks with a thumb injury.
"He’s going to UCA to catch; he’s one of the better defensive catchers in the state," Stauder said. "But he has had some pretty bad luck."