Over the weekend, Southern had a chance to take a commanding lead in the Southwestern Athletic Conference Western Division race, but the Jaguars could not complete their second straight sweep Sunday, falling 9-2 to Prairie View in the series finale.
The good news for Southern is that it still holds the inside track for the West title and, with it, a No. 1 seed in the SWAC baseball tournament May 15-19 in Fort Worth, Texas.
The bad news is that Jaguars (19-18) — the only team in the SWAC West that has wrapped up divisional play — may have to wait until May 11, after Prairie View and Arkansas-Pine Bluff finish six head-to-head meetings, before they know their fate.
In the meantime, the Southern schedule includes seven more regular-season games over the next two weeks.
The homestretch begins with a two-game midweek series against Northwestern State (11-33), which visits Lee-Hines Field for games at 6 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’re going to be trying to get our concentration back,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “We’ll see if we can make our hits count, string them back-to-back a little better. We really need to focus a little better, just try to play some solid baseball.”
Southern played some of its best ball in sweeping a Saturday doubleheader against Prairie View, building big leads in both games and hanging on down the stretch.
But the Jaguars were sloppy Sunday as the defense committed five errors to set up seven unearned runs.
Also, Southern stranded eight base runners.
The two-week break from SWAC West play at regular season’s end gives Cador some time to get players like sophomore catcher Fernando Morales (leg) and sophomore outfielder D.J. Wallace (knee) back from injuries.
On the flip side, Cador has concerns about the Jaguars staying sharp as they wait for the SWAC tournament to arrive.
“You could lose your sharpness, your edge or your focus by not playing,” Cador said. “But that’s just the way the ball bounces.”
Usual midweek starter Camilo Godoy (1-3, 5.65 ERA), a freshman right-hander, will get the start Tuesday for Southern against Northwestern State junior right-hander Ashton Sivigliano (2-1, 4.85). Neither team has named a starter for Wednesday, but Cador said either senior left-hander Zephan Rochelle (1-3, 9.24) or sophomore right-hander John Pagan (0-0, 10.80) will likely get the nod for Southern.
Northwestern has lost nine straight overall and is coming off back-to-back sweeps in Southland Conference play.
Outfielder/first baseman Will Watson, batting .311 with one homer, is the Demons’ top hitter.