McM plays the Choctaws in the weekend's opening game of the double-elimination tourney at 3 p.m. on Friday. Play continues Saturday, with the championship game being contested on Sunday.
McMurry, the ASC West No. 4 seed, is coming off of an upset of ASC East No. 1 UT-Dallas in last weekend's best-of-three series, 2-1. It was the second year in a row that the War Hawks have shelved the East Division's top seed (also knocking off nationally-ranked UT-Tyler in 2011). McMurry has been the West's fourth seed in each of the past four years.
This is the War Hawks' 13th appearance in the ASC post-season - and will be the teams last - with the University's pending move up to NCAA Division II beginning in the Fall of 2012. It will also represent the final ASC competition for the entire McMurry Athletics program, as all other teams have already completed their ASC play.
The War Hawks open play in the ASC finals in search of the program's fifth ASC title. McM has won the league crown in 1998, 2001, 2004 and 2008, previously.
Offensively, McMurry enters the competition with four regulars hitting above the .300 plateau, led by senior first baseman Matt Thompson's "MVP" type season. Thompson has not only had a stellar season with the bat, but in every aspect of the game. Thompson has a .393 average to lead the team, as well as club-topping totals in doubles (11), triples (4), home runs (9), RBI (34), slugging percentage (.721), walks received (29), hit by a pitch (7), on-base average (.514), stole bases (15) and fielding percentage (.992).
Thompson has four ASC West "Hitter of the Week" accolades to his credit in 2012.
Joining Thompson with a lofty batting average are teammates Dylan De Leon (.349), Connor Griffith (.325) and Nick Marsh (.307). DeLeon has hit safely in 36 of his 41 games played and tops the team in hits (58), amassing 16 multi-hit games and a 21-game hitting streak (3/11-4/21) along the way in 2012.
Friday's expected starter - junior righty Spencer Smith - has been the backbone of head coach John Byington's staff. Smith has amassed a 6-3 record and an earned run average of 3.86.
Smith has four complete games in 2012 and two shutouts (as well as one combined shutout). He also tops the War Hawks with 59 strikeouts and a workhorse-like 86 1/3 innings pitched.
Freshman Casey Berryman has been solid for McM down the stretch, getting his only starts of the year the final two weeks. Berryman allowed just one run over five innings of work in the regular season finale at Mary Hardin-Baylor and followed that with a victory last Saturday in the deciding game of the ASC first-round series at UT-Dallas with 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
Junior Charlie Hejny has been solid out of the bullpen for Byington. In 17 2/3 innings of relief work, Hejny has a 1.53 ERA and five saves (McM's season saves record is six, set by teammate Deen Coleman in 2011).
MAY 4-6 (FRIDAY-SUNDAY)
(Double Elimination; Hosted by Concordia Texas at Tornado Field in Austin, TX)
FRIDAY, MAY 4
Game 5: McMurry vs. Mississippi College, 3 p.m.
Game 6: Texas-Tyler vs. Concordia Texas, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, MAY 5
Game 7: Loser Game 5 vs. Loser Game 6, 1 p.m.
Game8: Winner Game 5 vs. Winner Game 6, 4 p.m.
Game 9: Winner Game 7 vs. Loser Game 8 (Semifinal), 7 p.m.
SUNDAY, MAY 6
Game 10 (Championship): Winner Game 8 vs. Winner Game 9, 1 p.m.
If necessary, Game 11: 30 minutes after Game 10