Southern ends 9-game losing streak as Daniel Franklin pitches a gem _lowres

Advocate staff photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Southern pitcher Daniel Franklin throws against Prairie View on Friday night at Lee Hines field.

The Southern baseball team is about to get a whole lot busier.

It has been 10 days since the Jaguars played, but they’re scheduled to play five games in the next six days, beginning with the opener of a three-game series at Texas Southern at 6 p.m. Friday.

“We ought to be well-rested,” Southern coach Roger Cador said Thursday.

The Jaguars’ previous outing was one they would rather forget: a 23-3 drubbing against UNO that was shortened to seven innings because of the mercy rule April 26. A series at Arkansas-Pine Bluff was rained out last weekend, and a home game against McNeese State scheduled for Tuesday was canceled because of final exams.

“The pitching staff is what I was concerned about,” Cador said. “They’ve logged a lot of innings, and this was a good break for them.”

Southern didn’t practice early in the week while the players took finals, then returned to the practice field Wednesday and Thursday.

The series this weekend concludes Southwestern Athletic Conference regular-season play for the Jaguars (6-11, 12-25), who follows with nonconference games at home against Jackson State on Tuesday and at Tulane on Wednesday.

Texas Southern (10-10, 18-24) swept a series from Southern at Lee-Hines Field, winning by scores of 13-5, 5-2 and 6-5 on April 1-3.

The Jaguars are fourth in the SWAC West and have clinched a spot in the conference tournament at Wesley Barrow Stadium (May 18-22); they could improve their seeding by sweeping the third-place Tigers. One TSU win would lock Southern into the fourth seed from the West.

“We have the liberty of experimenting a little more freely,” Cador said. “We need to know who we can depend on as we go into tournament play, what role they’re going to play.”

Most of the questions needing to be answered are in the bullpen, which remains a work in progress. Cador plans to stick with his late-season rotation of Daniel Franklin, J’Markus George and Troy Lewis, though Lewis might not start Sunday if he’s called on to close earlier in the weekend. He’s still searching for dependable arms to bridge the gap between the starters and the closer.

Regardless of where the Jaguars are seeded, qualifying for the tournament is a boost for a team that was 3-11 in the SWAC before sweeping Prairie View on April 8-10 and dropping the Panthers into fifth place in the West.

Southern clinched the tournament berth last weekend while it was idle and Prairie View lost to Grambling. These next six days are an opportunity to shake off any rust that might have accumulated during the layoff.

“We have a young team that didn’t finish a lot of ballgames, but we played with the lead a lot up until the seventh or eighth inning,” Cador said. “We won just enough games to get in. I think we needed (the break), and I think it worked out quite well.”

NOTE: Southern said Tuesday’s game against Jackson State at Lee-Hines Field will be its inaugural Mother’s Day/breast cancer awareness game. Proceeds will be donated to the Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center early-detection program.