Breakfast baseball for Cowboys

Published 11:14 am Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Cowboys will get an early start to postseason play Wednesday.

McNeese State will open up the Southland Conference Tournament at 9 a.m. against Northwestern State in Hammond.

The Cowboys (29-25) enter the double-elimination tournament as the No. 5 seed. After struggling early in conference play, McNeese rebounded and finished in fifth place.

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They ended the regular season with a 10-6 victory at Nicholls Saturday. The win kept the Colonels from claiming the regular season title and the top seed in the tourney.

Northwestern State (22-31) is the fourth seed. 

Both the Cowboys and Colonels finished the league season at 11-13, however, Nicholls won the higher seed by taking the series against McNeese 2-1 in Lake Charles. That was played the final weekend of March. A lot has changed since then.

McNeese won the first game of the series against the Demons only to drop the final two. 

“They took a series from us here, and beat us out of the tournament last year,” said outfielder Cooper Hext. “We would love to beat them.”

As for the early start, McNeese isn’t worried.

“It is baseball, 9 a.m. will take care of itself,” Hext said.

While the Cowboys were batting for tourney position last weekend, Northwestern State was playing a non-conference series against Stephen F. Austin. That means they could line up their pitching rotation right. 

McNeese is expected to start Zach Voss (1-5, 6.22 earned run average). He will have a host of relievers ready to go if needed, including SLC Pitcher of the Week Cameron LeJeune.

LeJeune has been the Swiss Army Knife of the Cowboy pitching staff this year, starting and closing. He threw five innings in the win Saturday and is looking forward to the tournament.

“I will be ready how many innings they need me,” said LeJeune.

LeJeune is 7-2 with five saves this season. 

The Demons will start right-hander Tyler Bryan. The sophomore is 1-2 with a 4.74 ERA.

The big difference of late for McNeese is the offense. With a healthy Braley Hollins and Elliot Hebert, the Cowboys have a full lineup

Hollins suffered an injury last weekend and Hill called his status daily, but he is expected to play. Their bats helped McNeese finish the season going 8-3 over their last 11 games. 

McNeese should have the edge on offense with six batters hitting over .300. The Demons have just one.

Lamar won the regular season by a game over Nicholls and is the favorite to win the tournament and advance to the NCAA Tournament. Nicholls is the defending.