Southern baseball looking for fresh start in SWAC-opening series at Grambling

Southern baseball looking for fresh start in SWAC-opening series at Grambling
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The Southern baseball team has been a group of road warriors of late, with seven consecutive away games — two weekend trips with a midweek road game in between.

The Jaguars had this week off and returned home, giving coach Chris Crenshaw a chance to take a deep breath in preparation for this weekend’s Southwestern Athletic Conference-opening series at Grambling.

The teams play at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Wilbert Ellis Field in Grambling, then wrap up the series at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Jaguars (4-11) have been struggling with an eight-game losing streak against tough competition. Two of the outcomes were the result of blown late-inning leads.

Crenshaw said the vibe was good during practice Tuesday and Wednesday at Lee-Hines Field. The Jaguars worked out again Thursday morning before boarding the bus.

“I got to work with the pitchers one-on-one,” Crenshaw said. “We have some guys working on some stuff in live innings against our hitters, some situational stuff. Hopefully we have turned the corner and it shows this weekend.”

Crenshaw said he’s going with his usual rotation: Jalon Long, Nick Wilson and Christian Davis. Midweek starter Antoine Harris, who was bidding for weekend duty, won’t be available as he is attending a funeral.

Returning to action last weekend was starting shortstop Justin Wiley. Outfielder JJ Rollon missed last week’s series at Incarnate Word with an illness and missed practice during the week because of midterms, but he should be in the lineup this weekend, Crenshaw said.

Mike Latulas played over the weekend but had a setback in rehab and could be out another month.

Southern is looking for more offense after collecting only 15 hits last weekend at Incarnate Word. Jaylen Armstrong and Khyle Radcliffe, the top two hitters in the order, are batting .408 and .318, respectively. But All-SWAC first baseman O’Neill Burgos has struggled from the start at .178 with one home run.

Crenshaw said he’s seen signs of improvement from his top player and team leader.

“Burgos had a couple of good at-bats, especially Wednesday (in practice),” Crenshaw said. “He’s not stressing on it. He’s got a right foot injury, working through that. It bothers him to rotate.

“The guys are amped up. Hopefully we come out with he same attitude, execute pitches, have some good at-bats. Older guys have been doing well providing leadership for the younger guys. It showed when the younger guys got in and played.”

Grambling (4-12) won its last game against Wiley College, 9-7, but has dropped eight of its past 10 games. Southern beat the Tigers 4-3 in the season-opening series in Houston.

Second baseman Kyle Walker is batting .327 with nine stolen bases in 10 attempts. All-SWAC third baseman Cameron Bufford is next at .290 with four homers and 21 RBIs, while Trevor Hatton has four homers with a team-best 22 RBIs.

Connor Rudy (2-3, 5.48) and Lorenzo Peterson (0-2, 8.68) are the top two starters.

Longtime Grambling president Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones and former coach Wilbert Ellis will be honored with jersey retirements in an Alumni Weekend celebration at Grambling.

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Mary founded Scoop Tour with an aim to bring relevant and unaltered news to the general public with a specific view point for each story catered by the team. She is a proficient journalist who holds a reputable portfolio with proficiency in content analysis and research. With ample knowledge about the Automobile industry, she also contributes her knowledge for the Automobile section of the website.

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