BATON ROUGE – With the Southland Conference Tournament just days away, the Northwestern State baseball team will have one final tune-up Tuesday night.
It comes in the form of state rival LSU, which hosts the Demons in NSU’s final mid-week game of the 2022 season at 6:30 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium. The game will stream live on SEC Network Plus and can be heard on www.NSUDemons.com and through the Northwestern State Athletics mobile app, which can be downloaded free for Apple and Android devices.
“It’s always a good trip,” sixth-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “It’s a good trip to get better. It’s a good trip to play against a really good team. When you play those really good teams, the ball moves a little bit faster whether it’s on the ground or from the mound. It’s an opportunity to do that and, hopefully, get better going into the tournament.”
The Demons (25-26) have won their past two games against LSU (33-18) for the first time since taking two straight April 2-3, 1996.
In addition to facing a Power Five opponent for the first time since playing Nebraska on March 5, Tuesday’s game serves as a homecoming of sorts for several Demons, including senior center fielder Larson Fontenot and senior shortstop Cam Sibley.
Fontenot has been part of the back-to-back wins against the Tigers and was a member of the 2018 Demon team that was within two outs of eliminating the Tigers from the Corvallis Regional.
A season ago, Fontenot went 4-for-5 with a stolen base and an RBI as the Demons built a six-run lead in an eventual 7-3 win that came 28 miles from Fontenot’s hometown of St. Amant.
“It’s really nice going over there and playing at Alex Box, where you grew up watching them play,” Fontenot said. “It’s a good feeling to go play against them.”
Fontenot is not the only Demon from the Baton Rouge area who will play a short distance from home. Fellow senior shortstop Cam Sibley played his high school career at Dutchtown High School in suburban Geismar while outfielder Reese Lipoma is another St. Amant product. Pitcher Thomas Sotile (University High, Baton Rouge) and freshman infielder AJ Bailey (Zachary) also hail from greater Baton Rouge.
Sibley had to wait almost two years into his NSU career to face LSU after the Panola College transfer saw his first Demon season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. He made his debut in the series a year ago more than a year after he planned to. The Demons’ 2020 date against LSU was set for April 28 before the pandemic shuttered the season 16 games into it.
“It’s fun to go down and play them,” said Sibley, one of eight seniors and nine Demons who will play their final regular-season game Tuesday. “They have such a great facility. The atmosphere is unmatched. It’s fun to go down there and show our skills against those guys. We just have to go down and play our game. Things will work out for us and keep going.”
Northwestern State will send right-hander Dawson Flowers (0-2, 4.88) to the mound while LSU has yet to name its starting pitcher.
Photo: Chris Reich/NSU Photographic Services