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Southern first baseman Hunter David (11) bats against LSU, Wednesday, February 27, 2019, at LSU's Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.

Rain has hampered the Southern baseball team in its efforts to practice for the Southwest Athletic Conference baseball tournament this week, but the Jaguars did get some good news.

Catcher-first baseman Hunter David said he feels 100 percent and ready to return to action after missing 11 games with a strained hamstring. David was the SWAC’s leading hitter for much of the season and is batting .388 despite having missed 18 games.

David, a junior from Zachary, said he’s been rehabbing an hour and a half daily, and his condition began to improve greatly with dry needling.

“The best thing to happen has been the dry needling,” David said. “It reduced pressure on the hamstring. Nothing was improving, then I got the dry needling and it was like I had a new leg.”

David said he spent part of Monday’s practice squatting as the catcher and felt fine but it will be “coach’s decision” whether he plays in the tournament.

“If he tells me he’s 100 percent, for sure,” Southern coach Kerrick Jackson said. “We’ve been taking it easy with him. He caught one inning (Monday). Hopefully Tuesday he feels no soreness.”

Scrambling to practice

The heavy rains last week and through the weekend left Southern on the run for a place to practice. The weather forced cancellation of Wednesday’s scheduled game at Alcorn State, so the team took that day and Thursday off. They hit in batting cages at Zachary High School on Friday and worked out on the turf at A.W. Mumford Stadium through the weekend and Monday.

Practicing at Mumford actually was a benefit, because the synthetic turf there is similar to that of Wesley Barrow Stadium in New Orleans, where the tournament is being played.

“It helps us out,” Jackson said. “You’d like to be on a full field and get the whole experience, but it’s very beneficial.”

Rest and relaxation

Jackson said he’d rather have been able to play games and practice in a normal fashion but thinks his players could also benefit from the extra rest. The players agree.

“I think we needed it,” first baseman Coby Taylor said of the time off. “We’ve been working really hard with everything, grinding with weights and grinding out innings all year.”

Tournament schedule

Southern will leave for New Orleans at 7 a.m. Tuesday and practice at Barrow at 9 a.m. The Jaguars' first game will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The winner plays against the winner between Texas Southern and Jackson State at 6 p.m. Thursday.