The blood is in the water for the Southern baseball team. The sharks of the Southwestern Athletic Conference are out.
The Jaguars have already dropped nine of their first 11 games this season, and coach Roger Cador doesn’t expect a reprieve with the team’s first SWAC road series this weekend.
Southern travels to Prairie View for a three-game trip.
“Prairie View is going to play us very hard,” Cador said. “When we had great teams, they did. Why wouldn’t they do that now that we’re not that good?
“They can smell the blood now. You don’t think they’re going to be like a shark attacking you? That’s the first thing they coach: ‘Southern isn’t what they used to be. Let’s go get them, boys. Sic ’em.’ ”
If the Panthers are indeed in attack mode, they’ll have to wait another day. Because of the wet weather, the teams postponed Friday’s opener. Instead, they’ll play a doubleheader at noon Saturday, then finish the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Southern was originally supposed to have a conference road series under its belt by this weekend, but last week’s SWAC opener at Grambling moved to Baton Rouge because the Tigers’ facilities were not ready in time.
The Jaguars avoided a sweep but lost two of three at home.
Cador said he doesn’t know much about this year’s Prairie View team — and for that matter, he doesn’t care much about what type of threat it poses.
Instead, he focuses on how the Jaguars can play better.
That may prove difficult with Southern possibly missing its usual No. 2 starting pitcher, sophomore right-hander Harold Myles, who had a death in his family.
Cador refrained from naming a replacement for Myles as of Wednesday afternoon but said if Myles does miss the road trip, Sunday starter Daniel Franklin would stay in his spot and another pitcher would fill in the No. 2 role in order to keep the rotation as consistent as possible.
Pitching coach Dan Canevari will help make the decision with Cador, but Cador expressed his early support for freshman Josh Sparks.
“If I had to think, Sparks would be the one I would start as a freshman, give him the ball and tell him to go pitch,” Cador said. “I have a couple freshmen in my mind that I want to play because I love their attitude, and attitude means a lot.”
Offensively, Cador expressed the most concern about how many runners the Jaguars have stranded on the bases.
Southern found a bit of rhythm over the past four games, scoring 28 runs on 42 hits — but the Jaguars also left 39 runners on base during that span. They have stranded 144 runners so far this season.
And even with the four-game offensive burst, Southern is still last in the SWAC with 42 runs and second-to-last with 85 hits.
Southern doesn’t have many upperclassmen on its roster, but Cador called on the ones it does have to not only drive in more runs, but also help younger players adjust to his self-proclaimed demanding philosophy.
“We just have to explain to (the younger players) how to work and how coach Cador thinks,” junior second baseman Robinson Mateo said. “Sometimes they don’t understand him, so I just have to come back around and back him up and tell them what he meant to say and show what he wants.”