Teams On The Upswing: Week 9
This week’s list of 10 teams that raised their profiles includes a few clubs with overall winning percentages at or below .500 that nonetheless have chances to make runs at regionals thanks to solid RPIs and quality series wins.
Big names such as Arkansas, Texas Tech, Notre Dame and Ole Miss highlight our analysis, but there are plenty of other teams to talk about.
The Bulldogs have been one of the streakiest teams in the country this year. They started the season by sweeping UC Irvine — the team that now leads the Big West conference. Then they lost five straight games, including a road sweep at Nevada. Then they won four straight, lost four straight, won three straight, lost two in a row, and won five straight, in that order. Two games after that last winning streak streak ended, Fresno went on a six-game losing skid.
But the Bulldogs snapped that skid this weekend, taking the final two games of a home series against then-No. 24 Nevada. Preseason All-American Taylor Ward (3-for-4, 3 R, RBI) led a 14-hit attack in a 14-10 win Saturday, and the Bulldogs won a 3-1 pitcher’s duel Sunday behind Jimmy Lambert (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER).
Fresno is back to .500 overall at 18-18, and 9-6 in the conference (fourth place, 3.5 games behind San Diego State). But because Fresno has played the nation’s fourth-hardest schedule, it is in good RPI shape at No. 53. The Bulldogs have a legitimate shot to snare an at-large bid, but they’ll need to ride a hot streak down the stretch, and find some more quality wins. They are just 1-5 against the RPI top 25, and 4-5 against the top 50. And the remaining schedule features just one game against a team currently ranked in the top 50 (Cal State Northridge). So it won’t be easy, but the Bulldogs have proven they are capable of beating good teams and that they are capable of getting hot. They just need to avoid another funk.
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