Demons open final homestand with long-awaited ULM matchup

NATCHITOCHES – The first time ULM and Northwestern State were set to meet at Brown-Stroud Field this season, neither team knew much about itself.

After all, the originally scheduled matchup was for Feb. 22 – each team’s fourth game of the season.

Nearly three months – and three rescheduled dates later – the Demons and Warhawks finally will meet in Natchitoches, squaring off at 6 p.m. Tuesday. 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.

“It looks like we’ll finally have some decent weather when we play them,” sixth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “We didn’t have a (mid-week) game scheduled this week, and we didn’t either, so it was an opportunity for both of us to make it up. With the (Southland) conference tournament the way it is, it pushed everything back, so getting games was tough.

“It will be a good challenge. It always is against them. We always seem to play tight games. I’m just glad we get it at home.”

The Demons (23-24) dropped the first game of the two-game, home-and-home season series with the Warhawks (15-30-1) in Monroe on March 9, falling 6-2. That game was the makeup date from a March 8 rainout in Monroe, which precipitated moving the return game for a third time to Tuesday.

NSU enters the game off the same situation it would have on the originally scheduled date, having won two of three games in a weekend series against a familiar opponent.

The Demons took a series win against Stephen F. Austin on opening weekend and come into Tuesday’s game with the momentum of a pivotal Southland Conference series win at McNeese this past weekend.

“We talked a lot this weekend about the 2018 team and the fact we had to go get that momentum we had and rode into the tournament,” Barbier said. “It doesn’t just happen. You can’t just turn it on tournament weekend. We did that this weekend. We went out and won those games. We had to go get them, and we did. Hopefully, it’s something we can build on earning those wins on Tuesday and into the weekend.”

The Demons will send right-hander Ethan Francis (0-1, 5.17) to the mound against ULM right-hander Cole Brady (0-0, 6.75).

In addition to a weekend in which the Demon offense homered seven times and scored 25 runs, Northwestern State also watched its pitching staff put together some impressive moments in the hitters’ haven of Joe Miller Ballpark.

“It was a tough environment to pitch in all weekend,” Barbier said. “It’s a hitters’ park. The turf is pretty fast. The wind was blowing out all weekend. Not only does that all affect the balls that are hit, but it affects you wanting to stick that ball in the strike zone. I thought our guys were really good all weekend.”

Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services