Texas trip opens in Houston

Published 12:02 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Looking to ride momentum from a wild series win over Southeastern last weekend, the Cowboys begin a big trip through Texas with a Midweek battle at Houston Wednesday night.

Both teams will try to get over the .500 mark with a win. McNeese State is 21-21 while the Cougars are 22-22. The First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

“You never know what is going to happen with this team,” said McNeese head coach Justin Hill.

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Last weekend the Cowboys rallied twice from early deficits to beat the Lions and jump back into the chase for a spot in the Southland Conference’s postseason tournament later this month.

McNeese used surprising power, which has been a problem during the season. Cooper Hext led the way, homering twice on Sunday including blasting a walk-off grand slam to end the weekend on a high note.

Now the Cowboys want to ride that good wave to Corpus Christi this coming weekend after the stopover in Houston. McNeese has won three of the last five meetings between the two clubs.

“It’s a big week for us, but they are all stressful with this team,” said Hill. “We showed we can hit the ball out of the ballpark, but we have to keep finding ways to maintain pressure on the defense.”

Hext led the wild weekend with seven runs batted in on Sunday, but there were a lot of other big hits as the Cowboys moved from last to tied for seventh over the three days.

“We have to keep it going,” said Hext. “We still have a lot of baseball to play.”

Now they move on to play Houston, a team also trying to find its groove. The two teams play every year, but this is McNeese’s first trip to the Cougars’ home park since 2019.

“It helps break up the long trip to Corpus,” said Hill. “It is always a good game when we play Houston.”

McNeese will use a bullpen game to save arms for the weekend conference series. Right-hander Daelan Caraway will get the start for the Cowboys. He will face fellow righty Dan Wright for Houston.

The Cowboys hope to get Caraway back on track. This will be his third start in 12 appearances.

After a strong start, Caraway has struggled, posting a 1-2 record with an 8.84 earned run average. The graduate transfer from Jackson State has been used as a closer earlier in the season.

“He (Caraway) still has a chance to be a big arm for us,” said Hill. “He has good stuff and we have to get him going.”

Wright has also struggled. He is 2-3 with an 8.70 ERA in 21 appearances and two starts. Wright has allowed 30 runs, 29 of them earned, in 30 innings.

Over the last four games, two Cowboys are hitting over .400 with Elliot Hebert (senior) leading the way at .429, scoring five runs with two doubles and two home runs.

Hebert is returning to former after an early-season injury.

Junior catcher Grant Mangrum slashed .417 with five hits including two doubles and a home run.