This time, it’s for real.
After a rollercoaster last few weeks for the Southern baseball team, which saw the Jaguars come back from the dead after believing their year was over, there will not be a third chance to extend the season.
The Jaguars were officially eliminated from the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament on Friday with a 7-2 defeat at the hands of Jackson State in the quarterfinals.
“It hurts just as much, but once you’ve been given a second chance, you just try to appreciate it,” senior shortstop Phillip Williams said. “You look at the good side and the positives. It didn’t work out for us, but we still gave it our all. I’m not too upset.
“Once you’ve already played what you thought was your last game and cried and all that, we were just having fun today.”
Southern was never supposed to make it as far as it did.
Two weeks ago, Southern mourned the end of its season after a loss in the regular -eason finale to Arkansas-Pine Bluff, but SWAC officials soon announced the Jaguars could make up a previously rained out game against Texas Southern that would act as a de facto play-in game for the tournament by forcing a tie with Pine Bluff if Southern won.
Southern earned its second life, but at the same time lost its head coach.
Southern coach Roger Cador was unable to be with his team in New Orleans this week after a relapse of pneumonia hospitalized him last weekend, but he said he was informed of the final result by a former player.
“The ending is never the most happy thing, but ending is what happens to many teams,” Cador said. “Of 10 teams in the league, only one team will be happy at the end. You do have a lot of teams that go home unhappy. But when you look at the fact they got another chance and they won that one game to get into the tournament, it showed a lot of character.
“We weren’t the most talented team, and I told them that. But despite not being the most talented team, they were one of my favorite teams in that they were good people and they worked hard and they fought.”
From the first inning Southern was digging itself out of a hole against Jackson State on Friday after the Tigers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
From there, the best offense in the conference slowly built upon its lead. Jackson State scored in five of nine innings.
The story was much different for the Jaguars who went 2- for-15 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. They also struck out 10 times.
“We had the opportunity to even the score, and we didn’t deliver the hits,” said assistant coach Dan Canevari who handled head coaching duties while Cador was in Baton Rouge. “Remember, (Jackson State) delivered the hits when guys were in scoring position. That’s baseball. There’s nothing else to say except, if you deliver the hits with two outs and the guys in scoring position, you’ve got a better chance to win the game than if you don’t”
As for Cador’s future with the program after more than three decades as head coach, he said he’ll take a few days to continue to recover from his illness before discussing any decisions with Southern athletic director Roman Banks.