Cowboys open series with UIW

Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press

As of today, McNeese State is a .500 baseball team. Maybe that’s not where the Cowboys thought they would be at this point in the season, but it’s a fact.

They are 14-14 overall and 8-7 in Southland Conference play, making this weekend’s four-game series with Incarnate Word pivotal.

The Cardinals (12-11, 8-8) are quite similar in numbers as the two teams start their weekend at 6 p.m. today at Joe Miller Ballpark.

“I honestly don’t think I knew where we would be at this point,” said head coach Justin Hill. “I know where I wanted us to be. But this is such a strange year you just didn’t know.”

So strange that Hill spent the early portion of practice Thursday not working on baseball but rather the lights. A bank of them remained out in left field, forcing him and staff to figure out just what the weekend’s schedule will look like.

When they became workable again, the regular schedule for starting times was back on. Saturday the doubleheader will begin at 2 p.m. with Sunday at 1 p.m.

“We are like the rest of Southwest Louisiana right now and figuring things as we go,” Hill said.

The same can be said for the Cowboys lineup, which remains in a state of flux. Leading hitter Tré Obregon, who is second in the Southland at .403, isn’t back yet from a rib injury. Hill said Obregon has started to hit off a tee and has not seen live pitching in 14 days.

The Cowboys’ top RBI man and league hits leader Clayton Rasbeary is hoping to shake off a virus that forced him to miss Thursday’s workout. Hill said it is not COVID related.

“We hope to have him back today,” Hill said. “It’s something that is going around the team.”

The Cowboys will be looking to end a three-game losing streak. They have also lost seven of their last nine after getting off to 6-1 conference start.

“We have had a lot of solid moments and some inconsistent moments,” Hill said. “We also had a bad 48 hours.”

That came in a four-game home sweep at the hands of Stephen F. Austin the last time the Cowboys were at home. Before that they were undefeated in Lake Charles.

Bryson Hudgens (0-0, 0.00) will get his second start of the season today. He has not allowed an earned run over eight innings with seven strikeouts. He will be followed by Ty Abraham as the Cowboys continue to stretch out Hudgens’ arm.

“Trying to get him in shape during the season is tough,” Hill said. “But the leash on Bryson will be a little longer this time.”

Hill said he’s hoping for four innings out of Hudgens.

“This is not ideal, but at this moment it is best,” Hill said.

Will Dion (3-3, 3.38 ERA) will again throw the first game Saturday which is scheduled for seven innings. Jonathan Ellison (1-1, 2.13) will open the second.

Christian Vega (0-3, 5.52) will start the finale Sunday.””McNeese baseball

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