Southern University’s baseball team may be without catcher/first baseman Hunter David, the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s leading hitter, for the next week or so, coach Kerrick Jackson said.
David, who is batting .408, reinjured his right hamstring while running out a ground ball in the fourth inning of Saturday’s series opener against Texas Southern. David did not play in the final two games and “probably” will miss Tuesday’s game against UL-Monroe at Lee-Hines Field.
“We’re going to take our time with it, make sure he’s healthy moving forward so we don’t have this happen again later in the season,” Jackson said. “He probably won’t play Tuesday. Maybe this weekend against Grambling. We’ll see.”
Southern took two of three against TSU and are playing a rematch with the Warhawks (10-23), who beat Southern 10-6 in Monroe on March 12. Southern used eight pitchers in that game, none pitching more than two innings. Ashanti Wheatley and Johnny Johnson hit home runs in that game.
Eli Finney (3-2) will start for Southern on Tuesday.
UL-Monroe is led by outfielder Trent Tingelstad, who is batting .355 with five homers and a team-high 34 runs batted in. Infielder Chad Bell is batting .295 with nine homers and 30 RBI.
Finney won pitching decisions against LSU and Alcorn State the past two times out. Jackson said he’s trying to get his pitching set up for the SWAC tournament May 15-19.
“We’ll use him in a starting role,” Jackson said. “That’s an advantage we have over other teams in the league, we can run four or five guys out there in a starting role that has that experience. Mid-week or weekend, we want to make sure he’s ready. With the tournament starting on a Wednesday, he could be the first guy we roll out there, but have the luxury of being able to play matchups.”
Southern’s pitching is starting to catch up with the hitting. The Jaguars were allowing more than six runs per game but have lowered their team earned run average to 5.52, which is second best in the conference behind Jackson State (4.52).
“(Assistant) Coach (Christopher) Crenshaw is doing a good job,” Jackson said. “I challenged him on a couple of things to try and get our guys doing better, put us in a position to be a little more competitive. We’re averaging 11 runs in conference play and our ERA is starting to come down. We’re trying to get our guys to understand to throw strikes and give our guys a chance to make plays behind them, and give our offense a chance to score runs.”
Last Thursday’s storm left Southern struggling for a place to play and after initially moving the series opener to New Orleans, put in overtime to get Lee-Hines Field ready despite ankle-deep water. A line about a foot off the ground could be seen on the outfield fence where the water had risen.
Southern was able to get the field ready in time for a 3 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.
“Our guys came out Friday and we worked our tails off to get water off the field, dry up some spots,” Jackson said. “I have to commend our players and coaches. We came out Friday there were just some spots we had to address.”