Central Arkansas Christian’s baseball Mustangs will visit Sylvan Hills on Thursday before taking next week off for spring break.
Patrick Smith’s Mustangs were 2-3 overall and 1-1 in conference play heading into Tuesday’s conference doubleheader with Baptist Prep. Sylvan Hills was 4-4.
“I know Sylvan Hills is always good,” said Smith, who remembered facing Denny Tipton’s Bears in back-to-back state championship games when he played for Batesville. “Coach Tipton’s alway in the mix. They are always real good and well coached with a great tradition.
“I expect them to be tough as always. We need to play as many good teams as we can so we can mature and grow and be strong when it matters most.”
Last week, the Mustangs split a conference doubleheader with Bauxite, winning the first game, 2-1; and falling in the second, 3-2; lost to Class 7A North Little Rock, 3-2; and to Class 5A Batesville, 1-0.
Although the outcome wasn’t what he’d hoped, Smith, the first-year Mustang head coach, found plenty of positives.
“We did some good things defensively,” he said. “We didn’t give up a lot of runs. I thought our pitching and defense really played well all week. We’ve just got to generate some more runners on the base and find ways to move them.
“We had opportunities; we just didn’t capitalize on them. We need more timely hits.”
He said with high expectations, sometimes he forgot that he was playing more inexperienced underclassmen.
“I think we only played two seniors,” he said Sunday.
He also praised his pitching.
“Every one of our pitchers pitched well all week,” he said. “All of them competed as hard as they could and gave us everything they had.”
He particularly praised sophomore Rhett James, who came back from a broken finger to take the mound against North Little Rock.
“That was the first time I’ve got to see him live, and man, he looked good,” Smith said. “He probably would’ve started against Bauxite except for his finger. I could list five or six other guys who pitched well, but he’s the one who stood out the most.”
After Sylvan Hills, the Mustangs are off until traveling to Mayflower for a doubleheader March 27.