After struggling to hit last season, UT Arlington’s pair of Weatherford College transfers have sparked a revival of offensive prowess as the Mavericks enter Sun Belt play.
The Mavericks (8-6) head into a three-game series against Arkansas State at Clay Gould Ballpark as the top offensive team in the Sun Belt.
Quintin Rohrbaugh and Colton Turner guided Weatherford College to a No. 1 ranking in NJCAA last season, and the two sluggers are helping the Mavericks become a powerful offensive team this season.
Those guys have really done a nice job for us.
UTA coach Darin Thomas on transfers Quintin Rohrbaugh and Colton Turner
Rohrbaugh, last year’s NTJCAC Hitter of the Year, is leading the way. He’s hitting .453 and getting on base at a .500 clip — both good for second in the Sun Belt — and he’s stolen two bases in the process.
Turner, meanwhile, has belted two homers and is slugging .489. Turner sat out the past three games with a minor injury, but he’s good to go this weekend.
UTA leads the Sun Belt Conference with 144 hits and 17 stolen bases.
“Those guys have really done a nice job for us,” UTA coach Darin Thomas said. “They both had really good years last season, and we’re happy that they’re barreling up and producing for us.”
As a team, the Mavericks are hitting .302 with six hitters batting over .300. They’ve pounded out 144 hits and stolen 17 bases, all tops in the conference.
They’ll be tested against Arkansas State’s top two starters, Tyler Zuber (1-0, 2.60 ERA) and Bryan Ayers (1-1, 2.65), both of whom average nearly a strikeout per inning.
The Red Wolves (7-5) have struggled to support them, however, hitting only .243 as a team. Ty White (.353, 5 steals) leads the offense for the Red Wolves.
If Kadon Simmons (3-1, 3.12) can build on his last three starts, UTA might have a formidable 1-2 punch atop the rotation.
After he was roughed up for five runs on Opening Day against Stephen F. Austin, Simmons bounced back by allowing only two runs over his next 15 innings. His eight shutout innings Saturday produced his best start of the season.
Joel Kuhnel was the MVP of the Jayhawk League last summer.
“I think he was just a little flat that first game,” Thomas said. “Sometimes you don’t have it, and he’s done a really nice job giving us a 1-2 on Friday and Saturday.”
Just like UTA’s ace Joel Kuhnel, who earned Jayhawk League MVP honors, Simmons had a big summer playing in Kansas with the Liberal Bee Jays . The junior from Cut and Shoot is following that up by leading the team in strikeouts with 16 in four appearances.
Simmons’ emergence could help the Mavericks solidify a rotation that’s been waiting for someone to take advantage of the opportunity. With only Kuhnel in place to start the season, UTA has employed a hot-hand approach to the rotation that it will continue to ride until someone takes over for good.
UT Arlington vs. Arkansas State
6:30 p.m. Friday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. Sunday