Jones, Smith sweep weekly Southland honors

A pair of stellar individual performances gave the Northwestern State baseball team its first individual honors of the season.

Senior right-handed pitcher Nathan Jones and junior outfielder Tyler Smith earned Southland Conference Pitcher and Hitter of the Week honors, respectively, Monday afternoon. The pair were voted as such by the league’s 13 sports information directors.

Later in the afternoon, Jones was named Pitcher of the Week by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association while Smith shared the organization’s Hitter of the Week award with Grambling’s Jahmoi Percival.

Jones, a product of Shreveport’s Loyola College Prep, tossed his second straight sub-100-pitch, complete-game shutout, blanking Stephen F. Austin, 7-0, on 99 pitches Saturday afternoon.

In his past two starts, Jones has spun back-to-back, complete-game shutouts, throwing a combined 195 pitches and allowing just seven hits and two walks while striking out 13.

Jones allowed only one runner to reach scoring position Saturday and did not allow more than one baserunner in any inning.

Jones’ six strikeouts Saturday gave him 203 for his career, making him the fifth Demon to reach the 200-strikeout plateau. He also moved into sixth on the school’s career list in innings pitched (290) and is in a fifth-place tie for career games started (40).

Smith batted .471 for the week with a double, three home runs and nine RBIs, joining Jones as first-time conference award winners.

Smith tied the Northwestern State single-game record with his three home runs in a 10-7 win over then-No. 6/8 Arkansas on April 24. Smith set a career high with seven RBIs against the Razorbacks, becoming the first Demon to drive in seven runs in a single game since Justin O’Neal did so at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi on May 9, 2009.

Smith’s three home runs tied Mike Jaworski’s school single-game record, which he accomplished April 12, 2008, at Texas-San Antonio.

Smith hit safely in all five games for the Demons this past week, extending his season-long hitting streak to six games. He drove in runs in each of the Demons’ final two games of the week against Stephen F. Austin.

Jones becomes the first Demon pitcher honored as the SLC’s Pitcher of the Week since Adam Oller took home the award on April 6, 2015. Smith’s honor makes him the first Demon hitter so honored since David Fry on April 30, 2018.

It was the first career LSWA honor for both players. The LSWA awards are voted on by a panel of statewide media members.

The Demons return to action Tuesday at 6 p.m. when they host Louisiana Tech in the opener of a season-long, seven-game homestand.

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