Cowboys set for home opener against rival

Published 9:30 pm Monday, February 19, 2024

The Cowboys will look to put a tough opening weekend behind them when they play a rival in their home opener Tuesday.

McNeese State welcomes Louisiana-Lafayette into Joe Miller Ballpark for a 6 p.m. game between the longtime foes.

The Cowboys were swept at No. 8 Texas A&M in a three-game series, as the Aggies outscored McNeese 31-1. 

“It was a tough weekend all around,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. “It wasn’t a cupcake to start with. We didn’t get padded stats.

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“We got to find out in a tough way just where we are and what we need to work on. I’m excited to see how we respond moving forward.

McNeese will start Caleb Strmiska, a 6-foot-7 sophomore right-hander who threw 1⅔ innings of relief in Saturday’s middle game against the Aggies. Strmiska, a transfer from Texas A&M-International, allowed three runs on three hits, but just one of the runs was earned in his first appearance as a Cowboy.

“We get to see (Caleb) in a starting role,” said Hill. “We are going to have to figure out some things.”

Hill said he wasn’t sure how much Strmiska would throw against the Cajuns, but noted he would be limited by either pitches or innings.

The Cajuns will counter with lefty Andrew Herrmann, a transfer from Central Florida Community College, who will debut at ULL.

Lafayette enters the contest on a high note, scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth Sunday to knock off visiting Wright State 5-3. That gave the Cajuns (2-1) the series victory. 

“That was a good series win for us,” said ULL head coach Matt Deggs. “Two good teams going at it. We got some areas to work get better at though.”

As for the trip to McNeese, the Cajuns seem ready.

“McNeese is always tough to play on the road,” said Deggs. “It is a great atmosphere over there. I know our fans will come out and be ready.”

The same will be said for McNeese followers.
“This is a good rivalry and a great home opener,” said Hill. “Our fans get very excited when we play them and come out for the games.”

Braden Duhon led the McNeese offense in College Station, Texas with four hits in 12 at-bats. The senior from Moss Bluff is the only Cowboy who started in the same position as the year before, left field.

Braley Hollins and Chase Keeton had three hits for McNeese.

“It was not the results we were hoping for, but we have to figure it out,” said Hill. “There is a reason they (Aggies) are in the Top 25. They got a lot of talent and are very well coached.”

After tonight McNeese will be back home for a four-game series against New Mexico starting Friday night and ending next Monday.

The Cowboys own a 49-43 record against the Cajuns in Lake Charles. 

“It’s going to be competitive and we are going to have to jump right back into the fire,” said Hill.