The Howard Payne Yellow Jackets’ third consecutive American Southwest Conference baseball championship tournament appearance begins with a 7 p.m. Friday tilt against the East Texas Baptist Tigers.
The Yellow Jackets, the No. 7 seed overall, are one of four teams headed to Marshall for the weekend in one of two double-elimination mini-tournaments held within the conference. For the first time in the 20-year history of the ASC baseball tournament, the conference championship features two four-team draws — mirroring what is done at the NCAA Division I College World Series.
The Blue Bracket, hosted by the No. 1 seed, will also feature the No. 4, 5 and 8 seeds. The Red Bracket will be hosted by the No. 2 seed with the No. 3, 6 and 7 seeds. Winners from both brackets will meet in the Gold Bracket, which will be hosted by the highest remaining seed.
Howard Payne (19-19, 9-12) is in the Red Bracket along with No. 2 seed ETBU (28-12, 18-6) as well as No. 3 seed Hardin-Simmons (25-15, 17-7) and No. 6 seed Sul Ross (18-22, 11-13). The Cowboys and Lobos play at 3 p.m. Friday, with the Yellow Jackets and Tigers to follow.
On Saturday, the losers of Friday’s games will meet at 1 p.m. in elimination action, while the winners square off at 4 p.m. The winner of Saturday’s 4 p.m. game moves on to Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship contest, while the loser will face the winner of Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at 7 p.m. to determine the second championship game participant. In Sunday’s championship game, if the undefeated team loses, a second game will be played immediately after the first to determine who advances to the best-of-three Gold Bracket series May 13-14.
The Yellow Jackets will be attempting to shake off a 2-7 performance over their final nine ASC contests. Howard Payne posted a 2-1 mark against Sul Ross, went 1-2 against Hardin-Simmons this past weekend and did not play ETBU during the regular season.
The Blue Bracket, hosted by No. 1 seed Concordia (27-13, 19-5), also includes No. 4 seed UT-Tyler (25-15, 15-9), No. 5 seed LeTourneau (15-20, 11-13) and No. 8 seed UT-Dallas (21-18, 10-14).