The Southern Jaguars lost each of the five games they played against Texas Southern this season.
But coach Roger Cador said he believes the Jaguars won’t be denied when they play the Tigers at 2 p.m. Sunday for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tounament championship at Wesley Barrow Stadium.
The game will be broadcast on ESPNU.
It is Southern’s first time playing for the championship since 2011. They last won it in 2009.
“Our players are playing with a lot of confidence because they believe this is destiny for them,” said Cador, who has guided the Jaguars teams to 14 SWAC tournament titles. “I love our chances because confidence can take you where you’ve never been.”
Even Texas Southern coach Michael Robertson seems a little leery.
“It’s tough to beat somebody six times; that’s for sure,” he said.
Texas Southern swept three games against Southern in Baton Rouge on March 20-21, then won two against the Jaguars in Houston on April 26.
Robertson said Southern is a totally different team since the last time he saw them.
“They look more like Southern,” Robertson said. “The pitching is there and then the hitting. They have a lot more energy than when we last played them. They look totally different.”
Robertson said what stands out in his mind about the meetings this season against Southern is his team’s pitching. Cador agrees.
“We just didn’t hit the ball well,” he said. “Our pitchers did well but we just didn’t back them.”
It was right around the time of the last games against Texas Southern when the Jaguars started coming on. They won three in a row at Grambling to end the regular season and enter the tournament as the West Division’s No. 2 seed. Texas Southern is the West’s top seed.
Then the Jaguars reeled off three consecutive wins in the tournament — including two in their last at-bat: one against East No. 1 seed Alabama State and one against two-time defending tournament champion Jackson State.
Those comeback wins more than anything have impressed Cador.
“You know how hard it is to get back-to-back walk-off wins?” he asked. “The probabilities are not high.”
Cador points to the differences in the two teams as to why he also likes Southern’s chances Sunday.
“(The Tigers) are not a power-hitting team,” he said. “They have to bunch together three hits to score a run. With our pitching, I think we can make it difficult for them to do that.”
Cador, in his 31st season at the helm, said playing out of the loser’s bracket, as Texas Southern has done, comes with a price. While winning has enabled the Jaguars to play just three games, the Tigers have played five.
“This will be their sixth game,” Cador said. “I know our conference well. No team in our conference has that many good pitchers.”