By now, Mac Sceroler is an expert on Southeastern pitchers Kyle Cedotal and Domenick Carlini.
The Lions’ Saturday starter watches every move the two seniors make when they’re on the mound, focusing on how they interact with other players. On days when he’s pitching, he tries to absorb every piece of advice they give him.
All season long, Sceroler studied his teammates’ approach to leading the pitching staff.
He has to. It’ll all be his next season.
As the heir apparent to Southeastern’s Friday Ace position — currently held by Cedotal — Sceroler will have to lead a pitching staff trying to replace close to 250 innings and almost 40 starts by the end of the season, depending on how deep into the postseason the Lions go.
“I’m going to be the guy next year, Sceroler said. “It’s on me to lead everybody and be the guy everybody looks up to on and off the field.
“I wouldn’t call it pressure — it’s just high expectations for me. I have to stay grounded and not get caught up in being the Friday guy.”
With two weeks of the regular season remaining, including a three-game series against UNO this weekend, Southeastern must figure out how to replace the considerable bulk of talent scheduled to leave Hammond.
On the Lions’ nationally-ranked pitching staff, they lose Cedotal and Carlini and weekend starter Pat Cashman. Relief pitcher Gabe Von Rosenberg still has one year of eligibility remaining as a redshirt junior but is participating in Sunday’s senior night ceremony.
To fill the coming void, Southeastern coach Matt Riser is looking to his sophomores in the bullpen to step up.
Sophomore closer Kade Granier is the favorite to take one of the weekend starting positions in a move similar to the one Sceroler made from last season’s closer.
The lanky right-hander allowed one earned run on 18 hits in the 30 innings he’s pitched this year, totaling seven saves.
Riser also mentioned sophomore Josh Green as a candidate for promotion as one of only two players to earn a start this season outside of the usual four.
But what could have a surprise affect on the pitching staff is the talent set to come to Southeastern next season.
Barbe High School pitcher Tyler Booth and West Feliciana pitcher Trey Morgan highlight the group of about 10-to-12 recruits expected to go to Hammond next year. Both pitchers will compete in this weekend’s state baseball tournament in Sulphur.
The Lions also signed Carlisle Koestler out of Hinds Community College and John Badgett from Cloud Community College, both of whom Riser expects to contribute heavily.
“I really like that sophomore class, and I really like the freshmen arms that we ended up redshirting,” Riser said. “We have big plans for those guys. We have to get them seasoned … but we think the future is bright with some of those freshmen coming up.”
On top of the losses to the pitching staff, Southeastern also loses both starting catchers in Chris Eades and Sam Roberson, as well as designated hitter Daniel Midyett for a combined 75 hits and 51 runs in 323 at-bats.
The Lions hoped to give more experience to their young catchers this season, but ended up redshirting sophomore Nico Cuccia while freshman Evan Pace saw action in five games, mostly in late innings.
But Riser said he expects both of them to split time next season the same way Eades and Roberson did this year, calling the No. 1 spot a “toss-up” right now.
The biggest potential loss will be if redshirt junior Jameson Fisher decides to enter the MLB draft on June 9, which seems to be the likely conclusion.
The first baseman, who has been one of the country’s best hitters all season, already contacted an adviser for the draft who would become his agent if he decides to sign a contract.
Sophomore Scottie Sanders, who redshirted this season, is the current favorite to take over at first base.
“It would definitely be very exciting to go into the draft, but I’m just trying to focus on the rest of the season and try to stay healthy and see how it plays out,” Fisher said. “I guess you could say I expect to go into the draft, it just depends on health and finishing up the season. When I get drafted, if that day comes, if depends on where they take me.”