Arkansas State (29-21, 16-9) comes to Little Rock needing a series win over the Trojans to have a shot at winning the SBC's regular season title ... The Red Wolves dropped two-of-three to Florida International last weekend in Jonesboro, but rebounded with a 10-5 win over No. 22 Ole Miss at Tomlinson Stadium on Tuesday night ... ASU is led by senior right-handed pitcher Jacob Lee, who brings a 7-1 record and a 2.84 ERA into the weekend ... Lee is holding opposing hitters to a .231 batting average, and has racked up 71 strikeouts in 79.1 innings ... Opponents are hitting just .214 against him in conference play to help lower his ERA to a 2.67 in Sun Belt games ... Lee held the Trojans to five hits and a run, with seven strikeouts, over 7.1 innings to lead ASU to a 7-3 win over UALR on March 16 ... Third baseman Claude Johnson went 4-for-4 in Tuesday's win over Ole Miss to raise his batting average to .372 (2nd in the SBC) ... ASU is hitting .285 in league play (4th in the SBC), led by Johnson (.360) and Dustin Jones (.341) ... Michael Faulkner leads the league and ranks in the top-10 nationally with 34 stolen bases.
ASU swept the Trojans when the two teams met earlier this season in Jonesboro to take a 59-39 lead in the all-time series ... The Red Wolves have won six straight over the Trojans (all in Jonesboro), with UALR taking two-of-three the last time ASU visited Gary Hogan Field (March 18-20, 2011) ... ASU's last series win over UALR in Little Rock came during the 2007 season, as the Red Wolves earned a 2-1 series victory March 17-19 against Jim Lawler's squad ... UALR head coach Scott Norwood is 6-9 all-time versus ASU, including a 4-2 record at Gary Hogan Field.
Senior Sean Bignall continues to lead the SBC in homers (18), RBI (64), runs (58), total bases (147) and slugging percentage (.724) ... A native of Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Bignall is ranked in the top-10 nationally in six offensive categories ... He is tied for third in home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage, while ranking ninth in OPS (1.174) and 10th in runs scored ... Bignall has already set three school records this year, including new single-season marks for home runs and total bases ... His 18 home runs have bested the previous mark of 15 set by Aaron Robbins in 2000, while his 147 total bases have topped the old record of 138 set by Greg Taylor in 1996 ... He enters the ASU series needing to drive in two runs to overtake Chris Julo for first place on the school's single-season RBI list ... Julo drove in a school-record 65 runs in 2003 ... With 20 career home runs, Bignall finds himself two shy of the school's career record of 22 - currently held by Guy Giuffre (1996-97) ... He also needs to score five more runs to break UALR's single-season record of 62, currently shared by Derin McMains (2000) and Greg Taylor (1996) ... Bignall became the first Sun Belt player to win back-to-back SBC Player of the Week awards since 2009 when he took home the honor March 5 and March 12 ... In UALR's 20-8 win over South Dakota State on March 7, Bignall went 4-for-5 at the plate with three homers, a double, six RBI and four runs scored - tying the school record for home runs while establishing a new standard for total bases with 14.
UALR's offense leads the Sun Belt in virtually every offensive category through 51 games ... The Trojans have put up a conference-best 384 runs, 348 RBI, 60 home runs, 20 triples, 850 total bases, 247 walks and 83 stolen bases ... UALR's .474 slugging percentage and .396 on-base percentage are also tops in the Sun Belt ... UALR has already broken the school's single-season mark for triples and home runs ... The 1988 Trojans held the previous record for triples with 19, while the 2005 and 2009 Trojans shared the previous standard for home runs with 51 ... UALR heads into the weekend series ranked in the top-10 nationally in seven statistical categories, ranking as high as third in the nation in home runs ... UALR is also ranked in the top-5 in RBI, runs scored and OPS (.870) ... The Trojans are sixth in slugging percentage, eighth in total bases and 10th in walks ... On the other end of the spectrum, the Trojans have struck out a conference-leading 445 times (4th in the nation) which is the highest single-season total in UALR history.
UALR's record-setting season has been fueled by the efforts of seniors Sean Bignall and Cameron Bentley ... Bignall ranks sixth in the SBC with a team-leading .355 batting average, followed closely by Bentley with a .347 clip ... Bentley is tied atop the SBC rankings with a team-high 74 hits and 17 doubles ... With 27 career doubles, Bentley needs two more to crack UALR's all-time top 10 ... The Kansas City, Mo.-native leads the Trojans with a .348 batting average and a .530 slugging percentage in league play, and is a conference-best 16-for-17 on stolen base attempts against Sun Belt opponents ... Bignall and Bentley are both showing remarkable improvement over their 2011 averages, as Bignall is hitting 111 points higher than last year's .244 average, while Bentley is 67 points up on last season's .280 clip.
Junior Chance Cleveland (9-3) enters the ASU series leading the Sun Belt with 92 strikeouts and nine victories ... The Pine Bluff, Ark.-native sports a 3.52 ERA on the year (9th in the SBC) and is holding opposing hitters to a .242 batting average ... He has racked up 92 strikeouts in 87.0 innings (9.52 per nine) while issuing just 27 walks for a 3.4-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio ... He led UALR to a 4-1 victory last Friday by holding first-place FAU to two hits while racking up eight strikeouts over 5.0 shutout frames to pick up his ninth win of the year and moved into a tie with Jacob Anderson (2000) and Carl Rowland (2000) atop UALR's single-season victories list ... Cleveland has a chance to become the first UALR pitcher to win 10 games in a season when he takes the mound against ASU on Thursday ... The eight strikeouts against FAU brought his season total to 92 and moved him into a tie with David Klumpp (2007) for third-place on UALR's single-season strikeout list ... He needs just three more to pass Rowland (94 K's in 2000) for second place all-time at UALR ... Cleveland was named the Sun Belt Pitcher of the Week on March 26 after striking out a career-high 12 batters in a 5-3 win over Troy ... With 87.0 innings pitched, Cleveland is 11.1 innings shy of tying Adam Champion (2010) for ninth place on the school's all-time single-season list.
Junior Myles Parma heads into the weekend leading the Sun Belt with a team-high 44 walks ... The Memphis, Tenn.-native is currently tied with Cameron Blount (1990) for fourth place on UALR's all-time single season list for walks ... Ryan Grazier holds the UALR record with 55 walks in 1993 ... Parma has started 49 games this year and ranks second on the team with a .443 on-base percentage ... He reached base in 47-consecutive games, dating back to the 2011 season, a streak which ended on March 31 at WKU.
In addition to its mammoth home run total and power numbers, the Trojans lead the league with 83 stolen bases ... Sophomore Ben Crumpton leads the club with 22 stolen bases (tied for 2nd in the SBC), followed closely by senior Cameron Bentley at 21 ... The duo is a combined 43-of-48 on stolen base attempts this season (89.6 percent success rate) ... Bentley leads the Sun Belt in steals in league play, going 16-for-17 on stolen base attempts against conference foes ... Crumpton is currently sixth on UALR's all-time single-season list for steals ... Bentley is tied for seventh on UALR's single-season list, and needs one more stolen base to tie Mark Johnson (1989-90) for sixth place on the school's all-time career chart.
Head coach Scott Norwood came to UALR prior to the 2009 season looking to transform a struggling baseball program and needed just three years to make history ... In his third season at the helm, Norwood guided UALR to the school's first-ever Sun Belt Tournament Championship and NCAA Regional appearance ... Norwood's success should hardly come as a surprise though, considering his history of rebuilding baseball programs ... Prior to coming to UALR, Norwood spent four seasons at Ouachita Baptist, where he quickly transformed a program which won a combined 45 games in the five years prior to his arrival into a national powerhouse - culminating with a runner-up finish at the 2008 NCAA Division II World Series ... Norwood guided the Tigers past No. 1 Delta State in the 2008 NCAA South Central Regional championship game to give OBU the school's first-ever World Series berth ... After going 16-34 in his first season at UALR, Norwood guided the Trojans to a 29-25 record in 2010 - UALR's first winning season since 2003 ... The 11-game turnaround placed UALR 11th nationally ... In addition to its 11-game improvement, UALR saw its RPI ranking rise by nearly 100 points in Norwood's second season, climbing from a 233 ranking in 2009 to a 140 ranking in 2010 ... Prior to taking over at UALR, Norwood compiled a 158-77 record (.672 pct.) in four seasons at OBU, including an astounding 101-26 mark over the final two years (.795) ... In his 12th season as a head coach, Norwood has a lifetime record of 384-258 (.598 pct.).