For years, the Northwestern State baseball team was accustomed to playing UL Monroe three times a season.
That often was the plan when the teams shared a home in the Southland Conference. Since the Warhawks left the SLC for the Sun Belt Conference after the 2005-06 academic year.
When the Demons (29-21) head to Warhawk Field for Tuesdays 6 p.m. matchup with ULM (23-27), it will mark the third meeting of the season between the former conference foes. Streaming audio of the game will be available on http://www.NSUDemons.com.
It also stands as the first time the teams will meet three times in a season since 2013, and it is the second straight season in which Northwestern State will face the same opponent in three mid-week games.
A season ago, the Demons played Lamar three times, taking two of those games. So far in 2019, Northwestern State and ULM have split their meetings with each winning on its home field. NSU took a 15-0 win on Feb. 26 in Natchitoches before the Warhawks squared the season series with an 8-4 in Monroe on April 10.
“With coach (Michael) Fed(erico) being there, he works with us to get these done,” third-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “Mid-week games, where we’re located, can be tough sometimes, and they’re a good opponent. They’ve improved as the year has gone on.”
Northwestern State will send senior left-hander Tyler Pigott (5-1, 2.95) to face ULM left-hander Cole Martin (0-4, 6.94) as both teams wrap up their mid-week schedules before key conference series across the weekend.
“We’ll probably have some guys get opportunities on the mound,” Barbier said. “We need to be locked and loaded for this weekend. So we’ll have some guys get some opportunities who haven’t had them in a while. It’s an opportunity for them to show us that, going forward, they can help us get some outs.”
Whoever toes the rubber for the Demons will face a ULM lineup that hits at a .266 clip for the season and features four regulars hitting above .300, led by Andrew Beesley’s .346 average.
In the two games against the Warhawks, the Demons’ pitching staff has found some success, limiting ULM to a .258 average. In the teams’ first meeting of the season, four Demons pitchers scattered seven hits in a 15-0 NSU victory.
Martin started that game and took the loss, lasting 3 2-3 innings, allowing six runs (three earned) and eight hits.
ULM is a much different team in Barbier’s eyes than they were even a month ago, but the offense remains the same.
“They have a bunch of left-handed hitters, which is tough on a right-handed dominant staff like ours,” Barbier said. “It will be a good test for us.”
Although the Demons dropped both games of Sunday’s doubleheader to Incarnate Word, there were positives to take from the weekend, mainly from the NSU offense.
The Demons swatted six home runs and batted .324 against the Cardinals, averaging seven runs per game. The six home runs were the most in a home series for the Demons since drilling nine in a two-game set against Mississippi Valley State on April 24-25, 2018.
“It will be good to go out there and keep swinging the bats,” Barbier said. “I thought we swung the bats this weekend as well as we have all year. It will be good to take that into the weekend against Sam Houston State.”
Photo Credit: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services