By Jerry Briggs
Special for The JB Replay
If the 22nd-ranked UTSA Roadrunners can play the second half of their Conference USA schedule the way they played the first half, they could be in line for a regular-season title.
First-place UTSA opens a three-game series in Florida on Friday afternoon against the FIU Panthers. Catcher Josh Killeen says it’s important for players at this juncture to get their rest and watch their nutrition.
“Right now it’s focusing on staying healthy as a team,” Killeen said. “Right now, we have a few people who are banged up. A few people that are a little sick. I was sick a little bit last week.”
The key to sustaining the success, Killeen added, is “just kind of staying healthy and taking care of our bodies and eating right and continuing to improve on the field.”
A few injuries in the outfield are a concern leading into the FIU series. At Wednesday’s media session, coach Pat Hallmark said he thinks Isaiah Walker will make the trip but that Shane Sirdashney would not.
Tye Odom, who played through a back problem on Tuesday night against Texas State, also may not be 100 percent. Neither Walker nor Sirdashney played Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to the Bobcats.
Third baseman Antonio Valdez said he’s happy with the team’s performance thus far, but not totally satisfied.
“I know there are some games we wish we could have back, but there are some games we’ve been fortunate to come out on top, so it’s been a good vibe,” he said.
Positioning in the NCAA ratings percentage index will be something to monitor in the coming weeks because it is one tool used by the national selection committee to determine at-large bids.
As of Friday morning, surging Dallas Baptist leads the 10 teams in Conference USA with an RPI of 16, followed by UTSA at 36.
The Patriots have notched victories over Oklahoma (on the road) and Oklahoma State and Baylor (both at home) since March 21. Most recently, they have won 11 in a row overall and eight straight in conference.
To cap the eight straight C-USA victories, Dallas Baptist has won three in a row at home against UAB and, most recently, three in a row on the road at Florida Atlantic.
At 28-9 overall and 12-3 in the C-USA, Dallas Baptist hosts the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs this weekend, with the opener set for Friday night. UTSA enters the FIU series in Miami at 28-9 and 12-2.
UTSA at FIU, Friday, 5:30 p.m. Also, Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 11 a.m.
UTSA 28-9, 12-2
FIU 15-22, 3-12
UTSA 12-2, Dallas Baptist 12-3, Charlotte 9-5, Louisiana Tech 9-6, Middle Tennessee 8-7, Florida Atlantic 7-8, Rice 6-9, WKU 4-11, UAB 4-11, FIU 3-12
RPI leaders in conference
Dallas Baptist 16, UTSA 36, Charlotte 54, Florida Atlantic 62, Rice 113, Louisiana Tech 133, Middle Tennessee 164, UAB 198, WKU 216, FIU 217.
UTSA in the polls
Baseball America, 22nd. D1 Baseball, 25th. Collegiate Baseball, 25th. National College Baseball Writers, 28th.