NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana-Lafayette’s Les Smith and South Alabama’s Matt Jackson have been named the Sun Belt Conference Baseball Player and Pitcher of the Week, respectively, as decided on by the league’s member institutions. The award marks the second this season for Jackson, as the Jaguars ace also earned the award the first week of the season, Feb. 23.
Smith, a freshman outfielder, hit .533 (8-15) with a double, a triple, three homers and 10 RBI last week, leading Louisiana-Lafayette to a perfect 4-0 record with a win over McNeese State and a series sweep of league foe UALR. Smith played a key role in the Cajuns’ sweep of UALR this weekend, hitting .615 against the Trojans, going 8-for-13 with five extra base hits. Smith batted .636 with runners on base and .600 with runners in scoring position, .600 with two outs, and hit .714 in advancing runners. Perhaps most importantly, Smith registered five two-out RBIs. On Saturday, Smith fell just a single short of hitting for the cycle, posting a two-run home run, a triple and a double in the game to finish with a 2.250 SLG%. Smith stole one base on the week (1-for-1) and was perfect in right field as well. Smith’s hitting was very timely, as he jacked the go-ahead three-run home run on Sunday, and put UALR out of striking distance with two-run bombs on both Friday and Saturday. More importantly, Smith spurred the Cajuns on to their most productive weekend yet, as the team scored 40 runs against UALR, including eight from Smith.
Jackson, a junior right-handed pitcher, earned his second win of the season by allowing just three hits in 7.0 innings of USA’s 10-1 series-opening victory against SBC member New Orleans. Jackson allowed his lone run in the first inning, and the only hit he allowed the rest of the way was a two-out double in the third. He retired the last 10 batters he faced in order, and allowed only three balls to be hit out of the infield after the first inning. The lone base runner he allowed over the last 14 batters he faced came when he hit a batter in the fourth. It was Jackson’s second outing of the year in which he went at least 7.0 innings and allowed three hits or less. Jackson was efficient, needing only 89 pitches to work 7.0 innings before handing the ball to his bullpen to start the eighth with a 9-1 lead. He did not issue any walks and struck out three batters.