Demons open mid-week slate by hosting ULM

Two teams that had polar opposite weekends start the 2022 mid-week baseball slate Tuesday night at Brown-Stroud Field.

Northwestern State enters its 6 p.m. matchup against ULM having won two straight after falling on Opening Day against Stephen F. Austin. The Warhawks, meanwhile, were unable to build on an Opening-Day win against Southern Illinois, dropping the final two games of their series.

“They’ll have a good team,” sixth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “(ULM coach) Mike (Federico) has done a really good job over there building something. They’re normally a transfer-heavy team with a mature guys. Even their new guys are typically mature hitters, mature on the mound. They’ll be tough. We just need to keep playing and keep getting better on our end. Whether it’s them on Tuesday or Oklahoma this weekend, it’s important for our team to keep rolling out there and having good pregame BP, good in and out and keep getting better as a team.”

Tuesday’s game is the first of 13 scheduled mid-week games for Northwestern State (2-1), which has not played more than three mid-week games in season since 2019. The 2020 season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic after NSU had played three mid-week games.

The pandemic-affected 2021 schedule again had the Demons play three mid-week games, one of which was a 5-2 loss at ULM on Feb. 24. Barbier said he is excited to have a traditional schedule on tap.

“It’s how our game is supposed to be played,” he said. “Look at the big leagues, they play six or seven times a week. That’s how you become a better team. You keep getting put in those situations. You’re learning from it. You’re learning how to act and how to react when things go well and when things go poorly, too.

“The four-game weekends were tough on us. It’s nice to have our pitchers back in a normal rhythm and to allow our relievers to throw two or three times a week.”

Northwestern State will send junior right-hander Ethan Francis (1-0, 4.91 in 2021) to the mound to oppose ULM redshirt freshman right-hander Henry Shuffler, who makes his collegiate debut.

“We’ve got some guys who haven’t pitched yet, including Ethan, who we feel are going to be a big part of our staff,” Barbier said. “Roles will be developed. I’m not big on setting out roles before the season. Those get developed on the mount. We know some of the guys in the back end right now. Andrew (Cossio) pitched really, really well like he has all spring. Some of our guys who had been dominant in a practice setting weren’t as good as they wanted to be. That will change the more they get out there.”

The matchup between the former Southland Conference rivals will be a “Two-For-One Twosday” game at Brown-Stroud Field. Two-for-one tickets are available through the Northwestern State Athletics Ticket Office. For more information or to purchase your two-for-one tickets, contact the ticket office at 318-357-4268.

Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services