LAFAYETTE — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette baseball team’s bus pulled back into Lafayette in the wee hours of Monday morning, and the players wore their game faces when they de-boarded.
In a couple of hours, final exams would begin.
“They hit the ground running this (Monday) morning, trying to get those finals in,” coach Tony Robichaux said.
The timing could have been better. The Cajuns are coming off a disappointing 1-2 weekend at Appalachian State, and Sun Belt Conference leader South Alabama is coming to town this weekend.
With their focus on schoolwork and not baseball this week, Robichaux said the key is to give his players space to run their own schedule. The team won’t meet for a practice until Wednesday afternoon, a “dead day” for the university when no final exams are scheduled.
“They were all studying on the bus trip and the plane trip back, buying energy drinks to stay up all night,” Robichaux said. “It’ll be a tough week. You’ve got to give them their space and their time, I don’t think you can run out there and practice while they’re in the middle of this.”
Though the Cajuns are playing only three games this week, their lightest week since late March, they probably won’t have much free time at their disposal.
In addition to final exams, the Cajuns will celebrate Mother’s Day and Senior Day before the team’s home finale against South Alabama this Sunday. They will also find a way to work in a graduation ceremony.
“This weekend is going to be important for us,” Robichaux said. “We’ve got to get through a lot of things, from the finals to the last homestand to getting through graduation day, and Mother’s Day and everything else. There’ll be a lot going on and a very good baseball team coming in.”
Milhorn to be evaluated
Senior right-hander Greg Milhorn hasn’t pitched since he injured his groin in the Cajuns’ April 11 win against Jackson State, but the Cajuns are hopeful they’ll soon have an idea of when he’ll be able to return.
“He has been throwing, he’s beyond flat ground, and now he’s moving up to a bullpen,” Robichaux said. “We’ll see him (Monday) afternoon or (Tuesday) and try to get a status of where he’s at.”
Neither Milhorn nor sophomore right-hander Nick Zaunbrecher made the trip with the team to North Carolina, Robichaux said.
Praise for Leger
The Cajuns were not able to come away with a series win last weekend, but it wasn’t because of their Friday night starter.
Freshman left-hander Gunner Leger was the tough-luck loser in the Cajuns 2-1 loss to Appalachian State on Friday, despite allowing just one earned run in 7.2 innings.
“Gunner threw a great game; that might’ve been the best I’ve seen him pitch all year,” Robichaux said. “He just did a great job for us. The problem is, the other guy did a good job too.”
Appalachian State ace Taylor Thurber struck out 11 Cajuns in a complete-game five-hitter to outduel Leger. Robichaux said it was just another lesson for his young pitcher.
“As I told him after the game, those are going to happen if you pitch long enough in this business,” Robichaux said. “The big thing you’ve got to keep focus on is that you threw a great ballgame and you gave us a chance to win.”