The schedule maker has pitted Arkansas Tech against Harding in the final weekend of the Gulf South Conference baseball season every year since 2004. And seemingly every year both teams have entered the series needing to perform well to earn a spot in the league's postseason tournament.
This year, there is something much larger than a berth in the GSC Tournament on the line.
Arkansas Tech and Harding, two of the three teams tied for first place in the GSC West with three regular season games remaining, will play a three-game series at Tech Field in Russellville this weekend.
The Wonder Boys (29-16 overall, 13-5 GSC) and the Bisons (36-10, 13-5) will play a doubleheader beginning at noon Saturday and a single contest starting at noon Sunday. Admission will be free.
All three games will be broadcast in the Arkansas River Valley by KCAB 980 AM.
Click here to access an Internet stream of the broadcasts.
Arkansas Tech has only won the GSC West Division baseball title once. That came in 1998, when the Wonder Boys shared the championship with Delta State.
Harding has never finished better than third in the GSC West since joining the conference during the 2000-01 academic year.
The third member of the present tie --- Delta State --- has won or shared the GSC West title 21 times.
The Statesmen (28-16, 13-5) wrap up their regular season this weekend with a three-game set at Henderson State (18-25-1, 6-11-1).
With all that said, the team that might be in as good a position as anyone to win the GSC West is the team that sits in fourth place --- Southern Arkansas.
The defending GSC West champion Muleriders (29-13, 12-6) are just one game off the pace, and they get to finish up with three home games against Arkansas-Monticello (17-23, 6-12).
The Arkansas Tech-Harding series is a match-up of the best hitting team in the GSC West against the best pitching team in the GSC West.
The Wonder Boys have a team batting average of .343, which is best in the GSC West and eighth-best in all of NCAA Division II.
The Bisons' team earned run average is 3.22. That's tops in the GSC West and it ranks Harding 24th in D-II.
Arkansas Tech, Harding, Delta State and Southern Arkansas have already secured the four berths from the GSC West in the 2011 GSC Tournament.
That event will be played May 6-10 at USA Stadium in Millington, Tenn.]]>