Cowboys picked for fifth, Hext named to SLC second team outfield

Published 1:58 pm Thursday, February 8, 2024

McNeese State’s baseball team is used to being in the thick of the Southland Conference race.

Justin Hill has made a habit of having strong teams that are in the mix long into the spring. Of late, it has been done with veteran players who entered the season as known commodities.

This year is different.

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The Cowboys were picked fifth by the league’s coaches and Sports Information Directors in the preseason poll released Thursday by the league. They start their season in a week at Texas A&M.

McNeese, which also usually fills the league’s preseason teams with honors, has but one going into this year. Cooper Hext, a senior outfielder from DeQunicy, was selected for the second team.

“It is an honor for Cooper and he certainly deserves the recognition,” said Hill.

Cooper is the top returning hitter on a completely different-looking Cowboy team. He hit .291 last season, his first seeing extended time.

As for the team, the poll picked them in the middle of the pack as they didn’t receive any first-place votes. Nicholls picked up 14 of the 18 possible votes and was picked to win.

Lamar, New Orleans, and Incarnate Word followed ahead of McNeese in that order.

Hill has said this year is a bit unknown, even to him.

“It is kind of exciting because we have a lot of guys who have been here and now are looking forward to getting their chance,” Hill said. “It reminds me a lot of my first year when we were kind of getting to know one another.

“I think we have a chance to surprise some people. I know we have worked really hard and these guys are excited to get out and play.

With lots of old, familiar faces to replace, McNeese will likely be a work in progress early in the season.

“We will do a lot of mixing and matching early and give a lot of people some chances to play,” said Hill.

That, he hopes, leads to the Cowboys surprising some people this time around.