McNeese State head baseball coach Terry Burrows. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:52 PM
Even at the midpoint of the Southland Conference schedule, McNeese State heads to Nicholls State this weekend with an opportunity to cement its status in the conference tournament.
The Cowboys (19-15, 6-6 SLC) are in a four-way tie for fifth place in the league, which also means they are tied for the final spot in the eight-team conference tournament. Four teams are tied for first at 8-4.
Nicholls (6-18, 2-10) and Northwestern State are tied for last, four games behind McNeese. A McNeese series win would give Colonels a very steep climb in the final 12 games. The Cowboys already own a tiebreaker over the Demons.
“Everybody’s playing to get into the conference tournament,” said McNeese coach Terry Burrows. “And if you look at it, there’s eight teams that still have a chance to win a (regular season) championship.”
Nicholls has not been a friendly place for McNeese to visit in the past. The Cowboys needed to win just one of three games in Thibodaux to reach the postseason in 2010, but got swept.
“I wish I could forget about it,” Burrows said of 2010. “Every time you go over there, they play really hard.”
With Nicholls simply trying to keep its postseason aspirations alive, Burrows expects a dogfight.
“We’re not letting their record deceive us,” Burrows said. “They’ve been in a lot of close ballgames.”
The Cowboys may be without a couple of key cogs in the middle of their defense, at least for Friday night’s opener.
Center fielder Andrew Guillotte is still limited after colliding with right fielder Matt Williams in Sunday’s loss to Sam Houston State. Catcher Cameron Toole, who has thrown out two-thirds of would-be base stealers, may sit out with migraine headaches.
“(Guillotte) was pretty sore all week long,” Burrows said. “We may have him for Saturday or Sunday. He’s a guy we really need out there in the outfield, especially in that big ballpark. We’ll see if he can go, but we’re not going to force him.”
Skylar Barrentine would start in place of Guillotte in center, while Matt Henry will be behind the dish if Toole sits.
No matter who plays, Burrows said the Cowboys have to take better advantage of situations with runners in scoring position than they have the past two weekends.
“We need to get a big hit and drive a couple runs in,” Burrows said. “We can’t have the bases loaded with nobody or one out and come away with one run. We need a big inning every once in a while. We’ve had it set up probably five or six times the past two weekends and only gotten a run out of it.”