(Rick Hickman / American Press)
Last Modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 11:26 AM
The Southland’s streakiest team comes into Cowboy Diamond this weekend at its hottest.
Stephen F. Austin (16-16, 6-3 SLC) has won four in a row and lost four in a row two separate times this year. The Lumberjacks enter the weekend on the heels of a conference sweep of Oral Roberts and a midweek win at Texas Christian.
“They’re going to give us a challenge,” said McNeese coach Terry Burrows. “It will be a good weekend of baseball for sure.”
The series takes on added importance for McNeese (18-13, 5-4) after getting swept at Sam Houston State last weekend.
“Especially with the weekend we had last weekend, we need to get back to some winning ways,” Burrows said. “We had a really good practice Wednesday and a win Tuesday, and that’s something we didn’t have the week before — we got rain all week and didn’t have a chance to practice.”
The Cowboys are looking for consistency in two areas in particular.
One of those is the Sunday starter. Improbably, halfway through a season in which it sports a winning record, McNeese has not gotten a single win from one of its Sunday starting pitchers.
Trey McGee (2-2, 2.45 ERA) will try to break that streak this week after earning the role with six scoreless innings in a Tuesday win over Louisiana-Monroe.
“We need it,” Burrows said. “It’s not just us. Everybody struggles on Sunday a little bit. It’s usually an offensive game. But if we can get a good start, that’s a bonus.”
Consistency in the field at second base has also become a concern for Burrows. Junior Hans Ask and freshman Phillip LeBleu have faced some challenges, combining for 19 errors in 28 starts.
With Tyler Klouser anchoring third base, Burrows said one of the two needs to step up down the stretch.
“There’s nobody else to put over there. One of those guys is going to have to figure it out,” Burrows said. “Both of them have the ability to play defense and hit. It’s just a matter of one of them getting comfortable. But it has been a major concern of ours.”
They also have nearly identical numbers at the plate — LeBleu is hitting .241 with eight RBIs and Ask .235 with eight RBIs. Ask has a better slugging percentage, while LeBleu has a better on-base percentage.
“You don’t want to start yanking guys out of there as soon as they make an error, because errors are going to happen,” Burrows said. “You don’t want to tear their confidence up. But at the same time we need to find somebody consistent and comfortable.”