The home portion of Southern’s baseball schedule is quickly coming to an end.
The Jaguars face Nicholls State in their final midweek home game at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Lee-Hines Field. A Southwestern Athletic Conference series against Grambling on Saturday and Sunday will finish the home schedule.
Southern (7-21) is mathematically alive but faces a steep climb if it is going to qualify for the SWAC tournament. Wednesday’s game is an opportunity to build some momentum with eight conference games remaining.
“We’re going to roll it out there like we’ve been doing,” coach Roger Cador said. “We want to see each play, each at-bat, each out, each inning and each game as a chance to improve. They have to believe they can put all the failure behind them.”
The Jaguars won their most recent game, scoring four runs in the bottom of the seventh Saturday to rally past Texas Southern 8-5, split a doubleheader and salvage one game from the home series.
They beat Nicholls State 5-2 on April 1 in Thibodaux. The pitching matchup from that game will be the matchup again Wednesday; Nicholls State is 21-20.
In the first meeting, Southern right-hander Ryan Flynn (0-3, 6.62 ERA) threw four innings, allowing one run, one hit and five walks. Conner Baumgardner got the win after allowing one run in four innings of relief; Rafeal Diaz pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.
Colonels right-hander Ryan Deemes pitched four scoreless innings in that game, but the Jaguars scored against each of the four relievers that Nicholls used. In his past four appearances, Deemes has an ERA of 1.68 and 13 strikeouts against three walks.
Cador said he’s keeping freshman shortstop Phillip Williams in the lineup as the leadoff hitter. Williams, who also plays center field, has started just nine games, but he was a catalyst in the victory against Texas Southern on Saturday, going 1-for-4 with a hit by pitch, stolen base and two runs. Williams’ eagerness to play and willingness to accept coaching earned him the starting opportunity, Cador said.
He added that he’ll keep outfielder Tyler Kirksey in the No. 2 spot in the batting order. Kirksey batted seventh and went 0-for-3 in the first game Saturday but, after being moved up, he went 2-for-5 with a double, an RBI, two stolen bases and three runs in the second game.
“I’m not happy about the losing, but I’m not going to be one of those guys that walks around angry with my kids because we’re losing,” Cador said. “As a coaching staff, we’re still trying to find ways to help them be successful.”
The Colonels are in a three-way tie with Southeastern Louisiana and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for the lead in the Southland Conference at 12-6. They took the last two games of a series at Incarnate Word last weekend, winning by a combined score of 11-0.
Nicholls State has turned 45 double plays, third-most in the nation.