The Southern baseball team enters its final SWAC weekend series a little bit stronger and looking for improved seeding for the conference tournament that begins in two weeks.
The Jaguars play host to Texas Southern at Lee-Hines Field in a three-game series beginning at 6 p.m. Friday. The teams will play at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Two of the Jaguars’ best hitters — O’Neill Burgos and Isaiah Adams — have returned from injuries to boost the flagging offense.
“We’ve got Adams and Burgos back so we’re starting to get healthy again to try and make a run at this last weekend going into the tournament,” Southern coach Chris Crenshaw said. “We’ve had some good practices, played well last weekend.”
Burgos has had three hits in the two games since returning from a hand injury and leads the Jaguars with a .320 batting average. He’s hit four homers and has a team best 24 RBIs, including two with a double against LSU on Tuesday. Adams, the Southern leadoff hitter batting .250, has missed the past four weeks with a hip injury but returned Tuesday against LSU.
“Adams needs to get some at bats to get back in the swing of things,” Crenshaw said. “He’s only been able to watch. We made up for it the last couple of day getting him some swings and live at bats. He looks good for having been our four weeks.
“Our spirits are still good. We’ve got to be prepared for TSU. They’re well coached. They do all the little things right and take advantage of your mistakes.
Crenshaw said Joseph Battaglia and Jerome Bohannon will start the first two games with the third starter undecided. Crenshaw mentioned Wilhelm Allen as a possible Sunday starter. All pitched 4 1/3 innings and allowed one run with seven strikeouts to get the victory in last week’s series finale against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
The Jaguars (13-26, 11-10 in SWAC play) need at least two victories to improve their place in the SWAC West Division, but that could also depend on makeup games by Prairie View, which had three games against Grambling and two against Arkansas-Pine Bluff postponed by weather.
Southern is currently in third place at 11-10 behind Prairie View which is 12-7 in conference play. Beating Texas Southern is important to stay out of last place on the West. A fourth-place finish would match Southern with unbeaten Jackson State (21-0) in the first round of the SWAC tournament set for May 19-23 in Madison, Alabama.
Texas Southern (10-31, 9-12) has lost nine consecutive games and has a .237 team batting average, sixth in the SWAC. The team ERA is 8.20, which is seventh.
The Tigers’ leader on offense is designated hitter Oscar Ponce, who is batting .354 with seven homers and 30 runs batted in. Shortstop Nic Garza is batting .280.