This weekend could turn the entire Southern baseball season around for the better.
It could also send the Jaguars plummeting even further than they’ve already fallen.
Southern coach Roger Cador doesn’t see much possibility of anything in between, either.
SU kicks off its official home-opening series Saturday against Selma University at 3 p.m. and finishes with a doubleheader at noon Sunday at Lee-Hines Field.
The Bulldogs (10-4) are members of the National Christian Colleges Athletic Association — and at first glance, they’re not much of a threat to the Division I Jaguars, even with the struggles Southern (3-11) has faced through the first month of the season.
“This could be our coming out party,” Cador said. “I never like to say that, but this could be a situation where the kids can gain some footing and confidence. The kids need a big weekend series, something they can hang their hats on and go forward and build confidence.”
But Cador has been around college baseball long enough to spot a potential trap when it comes along.
Since the start of fall practice last October, Cador said he expected his young Jaguars to struggle. He was right, and he hasn’t sugarcoated the poor play.
If the Jaguars don’t come out with a big win this weekend — or worse, if they lose outright to Selma — they could lose what little confidence they have left.
“You’ve got to be careful when you play these kinds of teams,” Cador said. “We’re not that strong this year, so we can’t take anything for granted. We could be in for a surprise against Selma.
“If the young kids think this is going to be an easy game, we could be in trouble. With the way we’re playing, nothing is going to be easy. We have to earn everything.”
Junior pitcher J’Markus George, who will start Saturday, isn’t in complete agreement with his coach’s assessment, though, saying that he doesn’t see the players’ confidence levels in dire need of repair.
George said the Jaguars are plenty confident enough right now, and turning the season around is as simple as executing the basic fundamentals of the game and getting the young players better adjusted to the rigors of college baseball.
“We just haven’t put all of the pieces together,” George said. “We got out to a slow start, especially with us having a bunch of young guys that actually have to play right away.”
Cador said the team is only a few moves away from settling on a complete roster.
Sunday could provide some insight into those changes. Cador plans to use his entire pitching staff in at least one of Sunday’s games to test which young player could emerge.
Right now, George and midweek starter Jarrod Jarreau are the only upperclassmen listed as full-time pitchers for the Jaguars.
That and other factores have led to frustrations with inexperience and up-and-down play.
“It’s the consistency,” George said. “We might have one or two good innings and then the next might not be as good or someone else comes in that isn’t really on that day.”