Howard College finished off its sweep of Luna College on Saturday, winning Game Three of the four-game stint, 5-2 and Game Four, 9-0.
Taking all four games was important the Hawks, who are in a bit of uncharted territory.
Howard College's perennially strong baseball program has faced some adversity this year.
With the renovations to the playing surface at Jack Barber Field, the Hawks were forced to play more than 30 games on the road before they enjoyed a home field advantage.
Britt Smith, HC head baseball coach, makes no excuses for his squad and believes the majority of its struggles are self-inflicted.
“The guys as a group get along well,” Smith explained. “The issue has been when they have an opportunity at the plate, they're not hitting for the team, they are hitting for themselves. That's why they don't have the success other teams have had here.”We have to win our last six games if we're going to have a shot at making the playoffs.”
Despite the criticism from Smith, the Hawks are 30-16 overall and hold a Western Junior College Athletic Conference record of 19-9 — hardly a terrible season.
Howard College currently sits in third place in the WJCAC. If they can hold that position or improve, a Region V tournament appearance won't elude Smith, who guided the Hawks to a national title in 2009.
In critiquing his team, Smith also offered up some praise.
“We pitched really well this weekend,” Smith said. “We only gave up seven runs and only five of them were earned. Our four starters did a really good job. David Gates gave up two runs early Saturday, but that's all they scored all day. Brock Hunt did a good job in Game Two even though it was a bad situation. David Palladino came in and pitched well in Game Four. We also played fairly clean defensively all weekend.”
New Mexico Junior College is the lead horse in the race at this point with a 22-6 WJCAC record. Midland is only one game up on the Hawks and HC is four games ahead of Odessa College and Frank Phillips College, both of which have 15-9 records.
Due to potentially bad weather Tuesday, the Hawks and the Chaparrals rescheduled and will play today in Midland at Christensen Stadium at 6:30 p.m. HC will be on the road over the weekend for a four-game series with Clarendon.