Southern concludes its baseball season with a weekend series at Prairie View that begins with a doubleheader at noon Saturday.
It has been a forgettable season for the Jaguars (8-25, 4-15 Southwestern Athletic Conference), who failed to qualify for the conference tournament when they locked up last place in the Western Division last weekend.
Coach Roger Cador has started taking a closer look at some younger players and has shut down two of his top pitchers, No. 1 starter Santos Saldivar and closer Rafeal Diaz, as a precaution. Diaz has the fifth-lowest ERA (1.69) among SWAC pitchers who have thrown at least eight innings.
“We’re trying to see new people,” said one of those new people, freshman infielder Sergio Torres. “We’re using these games to get a head start on next season.”
Cador said he expects things to be much better next season, but in the meantime, Torres, a shortstop who also has played third base and practiced in the outfield, might be called upon to pitch this weekend.
Junior left-hander John Thigpen, the No. 2 starter, has moved into Saldivar’s spot, and freshman left-hander J’Markus George, the Sunday starter, has moved up to take Thigpen’s spot. Harold Myles, who’s one spot ahead of Diaz in the SWAC statistics with a 1.12 ERA in six relief appearances, will make his first start of the season in Sunday’s finale.
Outfielder D.J. Wallace leads the SWAC with nine home runs, and B.J. Rowry is seventh with a .365 batting average.
The Jaguars have not won a full SWAC series this season. The only time they came out of a weekend having won more than they lost came in mid-March, when the first two games at Texas Southern were rained out and they won 9-5 on Sunday.
Southern and TSU were scheduled to make up those two rainouts May 8 if they had a bearing on the seedings for the SWAC tournament, but Cador said this week that Southern won’t have enough players on campus to field a team, so there won’t be any makeups at all.
The Panthers — who swept the Jaguars in a three-game series at Lee-Hines Field in late March — are in third place in the West sandwiched between second-place Texas Southern (12-7) and fourth-place Grambling (11-13).
Southern, which had just 10 position players in uniform for a 16-12 loss at McNeese State on Wednesday, has won a game in each of its three series since the sweep by Prairie View.
Though the Jaguars know they won’t play again no matter what happens this weekend, that doesn’t change one thing.
“You always want to finish strong,” Cador said.
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