HUNTSVILLE, Texas – The Northwestern State baseball team makes another trip to Texas this weekend.
And for the second straight trek to the Lone Star State, the Demons will see a familiar face in the opposing dugout.
When Northwestern State takes on Sam Houston State in the opener of a three-game Southland Conference series at 6:30 p.m. Friday, it will do so facing a former Demons graduate assistant coach and current Bearkats skipper Matt Deggs.
“Matt’s got a young club this year,” fourth-year head coach Lane Burroughs said. “To me, Matt’s one of the better offensive minds out there in the game. I really respect Matt, what he’s about and how he runs things. I’m excited about him. They’re doing a good job.”
The Demons (8-8, 2-1) did a good job themselves in the first weekend of conference play, taking two of three from Lamar. Sam Houston State (6-11, 1-2) dropped a pair of games at New Orleans on the opening weekend of conference play.
That slow start in Southland play did not overshadow what the Bearkats program has accomplished in recent seasons.
“They were the three-time defending champions of our league before last year,” Burroughs said. “They had been to three straight regionals. They go and sweep Oklahoma on the road and beat Wichita State on the road. That’s all you need to know.”
That culture of success is something Burroughs has implemented at Northwestern State and one that has taken place across the Southland Conference this season.
Southland teams own wins against Arizona, LSU, Oklahoma and Tennessee this season, lending credence to the conference’s strength.
“I think our league is really good this year,” Burroughs said. “We’ve got some really good coaches and players in this league, and we’re right there in the middle of it. We’re pumped about going to Huntsville and playing another quality team.”
A challenging early-season schedule has propelled NSU to the nation’s No. 2 strength of schedule.
“We know that’s going to change,” Burroughs said. “Right now, our guys need to know we can stack up with anybody in the country.
“One thing we’ve told our guys is to not worry about our record. Don’t worry about the scoreboard. Worry about getting better every day. Every at-bat, every time you take the mound, worry about getting better and, at the end of the day, we’ll be where we need to be.”
The games will air on 100.7 FM KZBL in Natchitoches. Patrick Netherton will deliver the play-by-play call of the game.
Friday – Northwestern State RHP Adam Oller (2-0, 0.67) vs. Sam Houston State RHP Sam Odom (1-0, 4.30)
Saturday – Northwestern State LHP Chase Hymel (1-2, 3.80) vs. Sam Houston State RHP Heath Donica (1-2, 4.56)
Sunday – Northwestern State TBA vs. Sam Houston State RHP Riley Gossett (2-0, 2.08)