It has been a challenging start to the baseball season for Southern, but things might be looking up.
Senior catcher Jose de la Torre was cleared academically on Thursday and is expected to make his season debut when the Jaguars (0-3) begin a three-game weekend series against Auburn (2-2) with a game at 3 p.m. Friday at Plainsman Park in Auburn, Ala. The game will be broadcast on SECN+.
Earlier in the week shortstop/closer Troy Lewis, outfielder Dondrayas Harris and left-hander Jarred Jarreau were cleared, meaning Southern will be at full strength this weekend.
Last weekend an already youthful and suddenly short-handed team opened the season in the MLB Urban Youth Invitational and got swept in three games by a combined score of 36-2, getting run-ruled in the first two games as Grambling and Louisiana Tech both claimed 15-0 seven-inning wins.
Lewis, de la Torre and Harris will bat in the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively.
“They all have experience,” coach Roger Cador said Thursday. “(De la Torre) gives us senior leadership at catcher, which is a critical position, and he’s our cleanup hitter. He has some power so that should be put some fear in our opponents’ heart.
“He has a reputation for being a pretty good hitter and a clutch player. That should give the other kids confidence now that they don’t have to do as much.”
De la Torre led the Jaguars in home runs (10) and runs batted in (46) last season.
Southern hasn’t played since the weekend because its home opener against Jackson State was postponed Tuesday and Wednesday because of unplayable conditions at Lee-Hines Field. No makeup date has been set so the Auburn series continues a stretch of 15 consecutive games away from Lee-Hines Field, where Southern is next scheduled to play Selma on March 18.
“We need to get some games under our belt, so we can get a better feel for each other,” Cador said.
The Jaguars are scheduled to go with the same rotation they used last weekend — junior left-hander J’Markus George, followed by sophomore right-handers Harold Myles and Daniel Franklin.
Last weekend, George allowed six hits and eight runs, four earned, in two innings, Myles have up nine hits and nine runs, two earned, in four innings and Franklin gave up four hits and four runs in 5.2 innings of a 6-2 loss to Alcorn State.
Auburn sophomore left-hander Andrew Mitchell (1-0, 4.50 earned run average) from Jesuit High School and Delgado Community College started and pitched five scoreless innings to get the win in Auburn’s 11-2 victory against Florida A&M 11-2 on Wednesday at Plainsman Park.
Tigers junior left-hander Ben Braymer (0-0, 3.00) from Catholic High School and LSU-Eunice, has made two relief appearances.
Follow Les East on Twitter, @EastAdvocate.