After a month of practice, the Northwestern State baseball team will enjoy a bit of a reward Friday afternoon.
NSU’s annual best-of-seven Purple-Orange Fall World Series begins at 3 p.m. Friday at Brown-Stroud Field, marking the approaching end of fall workouts.
“I look at it as a reward for our guys because we don’t get to play outside competition during the fall,” fourth-year head coach Lane Burroughs said. “We can, but it takes away games in the spring, and we don’t want to do that. It’s a reward. It’s the end of the fall – 45 days of getting after it, a lot of instruction. This is a chance for them to hit the refresh button. They get to put on a jersey, and they have something to play for.”
Eight captains selected the two 19-player rosters last week then announced their selections at a draft party Monday evening.
The first three games of the series, which begins with a senior pitching matchup of Purple left-hander Chase Hymel and Orange right-hander Jeffrey Stovall, will be played this weekend. Following Friday’s opener, the teams will meet Saturday at noon and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Brown-Stroud Field.
The series is scheduled to run through Oct. 29, which will double as the final day of the Demons’ fall slate.
Burroughs and his coaching staff turned over not only drafting responsibilities but also most of the coaching decisions to their four-player staffs. That does not mean the Demons staff won’t be keeping a close eye on their charges.
“That was good for the guys,” Burroughs said. “It was fun to watch them in the draft room. We let them coach the teams. They coach the bases. We let them make the moves. The pitching moves have to go through us, but for the most part, they run the show. They had practices Thursday, an hour on the field to get their signal systems down.
“You can learn a lot, and I have through the years, watching how our guys make moves and strategy. I’ve had guys tell me, ‘I never knew it was this tough to make these decisions.’ It’s fun to watch them do that and go through it. They enjoy it.”
Fun and possible future career paths aside, work remains for both the players and coaches in the final 13 days of fall workouts.
“This is it for baseball until we come back after Christmas,” Burroughs said. “We have three weeks when we come back. We need, as a staff, to have a good grasp on what our possible lineup and rotation are when we get done with this World Series. It’s fun, and it’s good for our guys, but it’s very, very important in the evaluation process.”