The baseball series between Southern and Grambling this weekend at Lee-Hines Field could go a long way in determining those teams’ fates for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.
It begins with a doubleheader at noon Saturday.
The Tigers (4-18) and the Jaguars (3-15) are tied for fourth in the Western Division with 2-6 league records. Grambling has lost its last four games and Southern has lost its last five.
The top four teams in each division qualify for the conference tournament.
The race is shaping up similar to the way it did last season when the Tigers claimed fourth place with an 11-13 record and the Jaguars were left out of the tournament after finishing last with a 6-16 record.
Grambling won five of the six head-to-head meetings, tipping the race for fourth place in its favor. These teams play another three-game series at Grambling on May 2 and 3.
“Right now, the way we’re playing, I can only think of one game at a time,” Southern coach Roger Cador said.
Cador said he thinks the Jaguars might get a boost from their revamped rotation of Santos Saldivar, James Fontenot and Tyler Robinson, which will be in use for the first time in a SWAC series.
The coach decided to move Fontenot and Robinson into the rotation a couple of weeks ago, but weather shortened the series at Arkansas-Pine Bluff two weeks ago to two games and Robinson was unavailable against Prairie View last weekend after throwing 94 pitches in a midweek game against LSU.
“I’m excited about that,” Cador said. “I’ll be real excited if we can find a way to score some runs for them. It’s tough to pitch well when you can’t make mistakes.”
Southern is last in the SWAC with an average of 3.5 runs per game. Its .232 batting average is second to last, ahead of only Grambling’s .230.
“We’re making it more complicated than it needs to be,” Cador said. “It’s very simple. You see the ball, stride and swing. We’re not doing a good job of that.”
Grambling beat Southern 6-1 in the Jaguars season opener Feb. 20 in the MLB Urban Invitational in New Orleans, but that didn’t count as a SWAC game.
Follow Les East on Twitter: @EastAdvocate.