For UL coach Matt Deggs, the more simple things seem to be getting in the Sun Belt West Division standings, the more complicated they get with his decision-making process for this coming weekend.
His Ragin’ Cajuns took a huge step this past weekend with a series win at first-place Texas-Arlington.
The next potential step comes at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday with a road game against UNO at Maestri Field, weather permitting.
Then comes the regular-season finale series at home against Troy, beginning Thursday.
“That’s what makes our sport unique,” Deggs said of the rain. “It comes into decision-making, and it can affect the game. I really want to play (Tuesday) night. We need the at-bats, I want to get some guys on the bump that haven’t been out there. I’d like to start David Christie.
“So I want to play. (UNO coach Blake Dean) really wants to play as well.”
The Cajuns stand 28-21 overall, while UNO is 28-24 overall and 23-17 in Southland Conference play.
“They can really hit,” Deggs said of UNO. “They’re very tough at their ballpark. Blake Dean does a good job. That guy’s got a bright future in front of him. I’ve told him that. UNO needs to try to hold on to that guy.
“His teams always hit. They always compete. They can beat up anybody. I like the way they do it. They can swing it. They’re older. They’re going to be at home.”
But whether to play or not play in the wet conditions is just the beginning of the tough choices his staff will face this week.
The Sun Belt Conference tournament begins Monday, or possibly Tuesday, depending on which seed the Cajuns end up with.
The format for this year’s tournament is two games of pool play and then two single-elimination rounds. Winning the Sun Belt West would be huge for UL, because if all teams go 1-1 in pool play, the highest seed advances.
But who do you pitch against Troy on Thursday and/or Friday? Exactly how many days off would each pitcher need to pitch in those pool-play games early next week at the Sun Belt tourney in Montgomery, Alabama?
“That’s the million-dollar question: Do you throw (Spencer) Arrighetti and (Connor) Cooke on Thursday together and be ready for a possible Tuesday scenario?” Deggs said. “Do you throw them two innings apiece? Do you just stick as is?
“Who has Arrighetti matched up the best with and where do you think they’re going to finish? There’s a lot of questions.”
Yes … and more contingencies to consider as well.
For example, it’s deeper than how many pitches are thrown. Deggs said Cooke’s 103 pitches at UTA on Saturday were “all taxing” after giving up four in the first inning.
However it all plays out, one thing is for sure: Deggs and his Cajuns will take the aggressive approach.
“I don’t care where you’re at or what you’re doing, if you’ve got a chance to win a division, we’re going to go do it,” Deggs said. “You may crash and burn doing it, but that’s what we’re going to do. That’s what we’ve worked towards, and that’s where we’re at.”
That doesn’t actually mean, though, that he’ll be reckless with the arms of his top pitchers.
“You kind of make your decisions from there,” Deggs said. “Both those kids have a very bright future. Yeah, it’s about the team, but also as a head coach at this level, you’ve got to consider these guys’ futures as well.
“Some people may or may not do that, but that’s how I do it. We’ve got plenty of other guys that can step up if that opportunity does not set itself up just right.”