Written by Bailey Ridenour // Photo by Balazs Balassa
The Bison baseball team started the season strong with a record-breaking series against Delta State University at Jerry Moore field Sunday, Feb. 5. The doubleheader sweep was the first that Harding had won against Delta State since 2013.
The team then followed their doubleheader wins with a three game series against Southwest Baptist University at home this past weekend. The Bisons won their first game 22-1, the second game 8-0 with two home runs, and concluded the third game at 19-1, with 30 hits at the plate. Taking the win in all three games the Bisons improved to 5-0.
“The biggest takeaway from these first few games is that we have a group of unselfish guys that will just lock it in and get the job done, no matter if they started or came off the bench,” redshirt freshman Jenson Presley said. “I think the most important thing is to remember that we’re playing for all the guys around us. Also I think it’s going to be important to stick to and stay locked into our brand of baseball because our brand will win games.”
Although Harding was picked sixth in the Great American Conference (GAC) preseason coaches poll behind Ouachita Baptist University and just one point ahead of University of Arkansas at Monticello, the current standings before conference play have the Bisons as the last team unbeaten. Last year the Bisons were picked eighth in the preseason poll but ended up at third overall in the standings by the end of the season.
“The pitching staff was good last year but we are even deeper in the bullpen, especially this year,” Joel Barker, a graduate assistant pitching coach, said. “Maddox Long was a very good starter last year and will be an important part of the staff again this year.”
Long, a senior starting pitcher (1-0), threw five innings and only allowed two runs during the Delta State game. In all 14 of his starts, this was Long’s sixth win.
“It was exciting to, [in] week one, know the kind of teams we are capable of beating,” Long said. “It felt good to have a say in the win, but I contribute that to how well we produced runs and made big time play spots. It is awesome to see success like this early in the year. With that being said, we play in a tough conference. We plan to use this early success to help boost our confidence.”
The Bisons will see their first game of conference play at Jerry Moore Field against Southern Nazarene University today at 6 p.m.