Alcorn ready for SWAC baseball tournament

Published 12:06 am Wednesday, May 26, 2010

SHREVEPORT, La. — Alcorn State will face a very familiar opponent in the first round of the SWAC baseball tournament this morning, and the Braves hope for a better result this time around.

Alcorn will face off against Southern at 9 a.m. in the tournament’s opening game in Shreveport, La. The two teams played in the championship game last year, with Southern winning and advancing to an NCAA regional.

“We have our work cut out for us right off the bat because Southern is the defending champion,” Alcorn coach Barret Ray said. “We’re going to have to get a good start from (pitcher) Collin Armold and can’t make any mistakes in the field.”

Alcorn is the No. 3 seed from the East Division while Southern (22-19, 17-6 SWAC) is the No. 2 seed from the West Division.

The winner will advance to play the winner of today’s game between East No. 1 seed Jackson State and West No. 4 seed Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The loser will drop into the loser’s bracket to play the loser of that game.

Alcorn got off to a hot start in the league, but cooled off down the stretch, finishing with a 24-26 overall record and a 15-8 record in the SWAC.

Ray said the defense will have to improve if the Braves want to revert back to their early-season form.

“We’re going to have to cut down on the errors, play good defensively and get good pitching,” Ray said. “Making the routine play will be the key.”

While the Alcorn defense has been shaky, the Braves offense has been performing well, and Ray hopes that continues in the tournament.

“You always want to do better because we have left a lot of men on base,” Ray said. “But for the most part (the offense) is what has been carrying us, and we look to continue that.”

Alcorn has never won the SWAC tournament, but Ray hopes the experience the team has from advancing to the championship game last year will help in this year’s tournament.

“I’ve got two players on the team who have played in two championship games,” Ray said. “I’m looking for that to carry over.”

Ray is in his first season as Alcorn’s baseball coach, having come from Grambling State to replace the legendary Willie “Rat” McGowan, who retired after last season.

Ray said his first season at Alcorn has been a success and he’s looking forward to finishing it with a SWAC tournament win.

“I think it has been a good transition,” Ray said. “Hopefully by now we’re on the same page and understand what we need to do in order to win.”