FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
NATCHITOCHES – The 2014 Northwestern State baseball schedule, highlighted by five NCAA Tournament teams and a visit from LSU to Brown-Stroud Field, was announced by head coach Lane Burroughs and his staff on Thursday.
The 56-game schedule features Louisiana-Lafayette, LSU, Sam Houston, Arkansas, and Central Arkansas, all who participated in the postseason.
“This is the first schedule that our staff has put together. We wanted to add more home games and more quality home opponents, and we’ve done that,” said head coach Lane Burroughs who is starting his second year as the skipper of the program.
“Our guys are not on the road as much, therefore they miss less class,” he said. “Our longest road swing is four games. We also wanted to limit the number of times we play two games in the middle of the week, and we’ve accomplished that.”
Twenty-eight of the 56 games in 2014 are at Brown-Stroud Field.
The year opens on Feb. 14 in Jacksonville, Ala. with a three-game series versus Jacksonville State before NSU returns home first its first meeting with Louisiana-Lafayette (Feb. 19). The second meeting with the Ragin’ Cajuns will be on March 25 in Lafayette.
After, the first matchup with Lafayette the Demons will travel to Edinbug, Texas to take part in Texas-Pan American’s Al Olgetree Classic from Feb. 21-22. Northwestern State will play both Prairie View A&M and UTPA in that tournament.
On Feb. 26, the Demons will open a four-game series against in-state rival Southern University. The first matchup of that series will be in Baton Rouge, but will return to Brown-Stroud Field for the remaining three games that take place from Feb. 28-March 2.
The 2013 College World Series participant LSU will pay a visit to Brown-Stroud Field on March 4 for the first time since 2001 when the Demons posted a 10-8 win over the Tigers in front of the biggest crowd in Brown-Stroud Field history, 4,214. The Demons will repay the visit when they travel to Baton Rouge on May 13.
“It’s always big when you can get one of the most tradition-rich programs in the country as a home game. Throw in that opponent happens to be from our state and the excitement grows tremendously,” said Burroughs. “It gives our fans and community a chance to see us play a quality opponent on our field.
“I just really appreciate Paul (Mainieri, LSU head baseball coach) and his willingness to travel to all the Louisiana schools to play. It’s great for us and for college baseball.”
Following the LSU game, Northwestern State will host an event that boasts Chicago State and Southland Rival McNeese State. NSU will play Chicago State first on March 7, and then again the following day as well as a non-conference McNeese game.
The event will finish with another non-conference match-up with McNeese on March 9. CSU and MSU will play each other throughout the event as well.
Southland Conference play opens with three-game set in Tulsa, Okla. with Oral Roberts. The Southland Conference will feature four new teams, New Orleans, Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian, and Houston Baptist, but NSU will only face New Orleans (May 9-11) and Incarnate Word (May 2-4).
“The Southland continues to grow into one of the premiere baseball leagues in the country. It’s a challenge every weekend,” said Burroughs. “We are adding quality programs and we have tremendous baseball coaches all over the place. I expect everyone to continue to improve and we expect to be right in the hunt.”
LSU-Alexandria will travel to Brown-Stroud Field on March 19 before Stephen F. Austin visits from March 21-23.
Following the Sam Houston State series (March 28-30) the Demons will play two midweek games: will host Grambling (April 1) and travel to Louisiana Tech (April 2).
Nicholls will travel to Natchitoches from April 4-6 before a four-game road stretch at Louisiana-Monroe and a three-game conference series at McNeese.
Louisiana-Monroe returns to Brown-Stroud Field the next week and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi the next weekend for a Southland Conference series.
The Demons will travel to Fayetteville, Ark. for a two-game set versus former Demon head coach Dave Van Horn and the Arkansas Razorbacks on April 22-23.
Central Arkansas, who was one game away from advancing to the College World Series a year ago, will play a three-game league set in Natchitoches followed by Louisiana Tech.
The last series of the year will be at Southeastern Louisiana from May 15-17.
The Southland Conference Tournament will be in Conway, Ark. from May 21-22.
“We are excited about our schedule, especially with the chance to play more games at Brown Stroud,” said Burroughs. “The Southland Conference schedule is always demanding and our non-conference opponents will provide us with a true measuring stick of who we are early on.”
OTHER THOUGHTS FROM HEAD COACH LANE BURROUGHS:
• Specifically, how will the non-conference slate help in conference play, which is always a tough conference to get through? I think all coaches walk a fine line of developing confidence in your team and at the same time playing high quality opponents early on. In today’s game with more programs placing an emphasis on baseball and the BBCOR (redesigned bats mandated to be used with the start of the 2011 season) era, it’s a fight every time you hook it up. It’s important to play good teams and make sure your guys are learning early on. Early games are about learning who you are.
• Obviously, LSU coming to the BStro is something that sticks out, but what are some other match ups you see that could potentially be huge. That’s easy. Every Southland series is huge. Home or on the road every weekend is a grind. You need to hold serve at home in league games. We want Brown-Stroud to be a place that our conference opponents dread coming to compete. We are looking forward to hosting some quality SLC programs this season.
• We play a TON of Louisiana schools. What does that do for NSU and the rivalries though out the state? We are fortunate to be in an area where baseball is taken seriously and you can play quality RPI games, without having to miss a lot of school or pay out huge amounts of money. We have great players, coaches and fans in this state and it’s always fun to play in-state opponents. These kids grow up playing with and against each other and it’s great to see new rivalries created.