Demons cap nine-game homestand by hosting Grambling

Given an extra day of preparation ahead of the end of a season-long, nine-game homestand, Bobby Barbier saw something from his Northwestern State baseball team that made him smile.

“I thought (Monday’s) practice was one of the best we’ve had this year,” the sixth-year coach said. “A lot of times, in the middle of the season when you’re playing games, practice can be a lack of focus and energy. I felt like it was a first week of the season practice. That’s important. It shows we understand what’s at stake every day we come out here.”

The Demons host state rival Grambling on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the capper of the longest 2022 run at Brown-Stroud Field. Free streaming audio and subscription video of the game is available on and through the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices.

Northwestern State (9-11) has won six of its first eight games on the homestand behind an offense that has rung up 99 games in the eight games, including 13 in Saturday’s series finale against South Dakota State.

The last seven of those games have seen Cameron Parikh serve as NSU’s leadoff hitter. During that time, Parikh has batted at a .348 clip and driven in eight of his RBIs on the season. His OPS since the second game of the Alcorn series sits at a robust .951.

Included in that run was his first career home run, an opposite-field solo shot in the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader against South Dakota State. Parikh’s line drive found its way into the home bullpen in right field, marking the first time in the one-plus seasons the bullpen has been visited by a Demon home run.

The homer highlighted a doubleheader in which Parikh went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, two walks and a pair of RBIs.

“He got his opportunity, and he has put together some pretty good at-bats,” Barbier said. “He may not agree with me, but to me his focus has changed on how he approaches his at-bats from the first couple of years he was here. He’s made a commitment to make a change and use the whole field, especially the back side. That’s really helped his game.”

Parikh and the Demon lineup will face a Grambling (7-13) team that comes in off a 2-1 weekend in its opening conference series of the year against Prairie View A&M.

The Tigers carry the SWAC’s third-best team batting average (.287) and third-best offense in runs (131) into the first of a home-and-home season series. The Demons will make the return trip to Grambling on April 26.

“They’ve got a good team,” Barbier said. “They held Mississippi State to a 2-1 game earlier this year. They’re doing a really good job getting transfers in who have helped them out. It should be a good ballgame.

Right-hander Gus Collins (0-0, 3.65) is scheduled to make the first start of his Northwestern State career. Collins struck out a career-high eight in relief against South Dakota State on Thursday night.

PHOTO: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services