The Wildcats (24-26 overall) have lost seven of their last eight games - including being swept in a four-game series last weekend at conference champion Angelo State - entering the tournament. ACU only reached the tournament because Cameron was just as futile down the stretch, losing its final seven games and finishing one game behind the sixth-place Wildcats.
As the final team to qualify for the tournament, the No. 6 seed will return to San Angelo for Saturday's first-round game against Angelo State. The Rams (36-14 overall) are the No. 1 seed and hosting the tournament for the first time. After outscoring ACU 46-7 in last weekend's sweep, the Rams will host ACU at 7 p.m. in the final game of Saturday's opening day.
No. 3 Incarnate Word (22-19) will take on No. 4 West Texas A&M (29-17) in the first game at noon with No. 2 seed Texas A&M-Kingsville (31-14) taking on No. 5 seed Tarleton State (26-19) in the 3:30 p.m. game. Angelo State and Tarleton State each enter the tournament riding seven-game winning streaks.
ACU, meanwhile, has lost its last six straight and is hitting just .287 and has a team ERA of 6.57. Opponents, meanwhile, have a .326 batting average against ACU's pitchers and a cumulative 5.49 ERA.
The Wildcats have just four regulars hitting better than .300 on the season: second baseman Chuck Duarte (team-best .379), third baseman Duncan Blades (.333), centerfielder Tyler Eager (.321) and utility player Travis Schuetze (.309).
On the pitching staff, the lowest ERA among regulars is the 4.27 sported by starter Aaron Lambrix, who is just 3-5 on the season. Josh Stone - who will get the start in Saturday's game against Angelo State - is 5-6 with a 4.62 ERA. Stone didn't pitch last week against the Rams, who collected 54 hits in only 28 innings against ACU pitching.
Despite the dire numbers, ACU head coach Britt Bonneau - in his 16th year as the Wildcats' leader - knows anything can happen in tournament play.
"We're not exactly going into the tournament the way we would have liked, but I'm glad we're back in the field," said Bonneau, who is 640-298 in 16 seasons. "We've been part of this thing enough times to know that any of the six teams can get hot and over the course of four days, put together some good baseball and win the tournament. I'd like to think we have the ability to do that this weekend."
ACU is the league's all-time leader in post-season tournament championships (six, the latest in 2010), tournament championship game appearances (11), and tournament victories (36). ACU is 5-2 all-time against the Rams in the LSC Post-Season Tournament and leads the all-time series 31-20.
All of ACU's games in the tournament will be broadcast locally on KSLI 1280 AM. Championship Passes are being sold for $25, while tickets at the gate are $10. Admission is free for children under 5 and Angelo State students with proper identification.