Baseball to enter conference play against Northwestern
March 9, 2017
The Nicholls State University baseball team will open Southland Conference (SLC) play this weekend against in-state rival, Northwestern State University, in Natchitoches.
With 12 non-conference games already under their belt, Head Coach Seth Thibodeaux said having this week to prepare for the series on the road is exactly what his players needed.
“This midweek break could not come soon enough because we needed a breather,”Thibodeaux. “It’s been so intense. We played University of Louisiana at Lafayette who was ranked 13th, and then we had Louisiana State University and West Virginia. The sweep over Brown University was a good way to finish.”
According to senior catcher Alex Tucker, the Colonels have learned valuable things from the games they have played so far, which has helped them prepare for SLC teams.
“We’ve been able to see what we have as a pitching staff and what we can do offensively,” Tucker said. “We’ve been able to see all the little things we need to work on and improve before we get into conference. This past weekend was our first series against a team for three consecutive games, so it gave us more of a confident atmosphere, since we played the same team three times in the same weekend,” Thibodeaux said.
Thibodeaux said that although he is confident that his players are ready to take on Northwestern, they will have to work just as hard every weekend to earn victories over other conference teams he says the conference is stronger than ever.
“I’m proud of our guys because they’ve been handling themselves very maturely,” Thibodeaux said. “We feel good about heading into the conference. Our conference is so tough that nobody really cares who they’re playing. The number one team could play the thirteenth team and it wouldn’t matter.”
Tucker looks at the conference the same way, and said he understands that each team will put up a fight this season.
“So far this year, we have seen that the Southland Conference is strong,” Tucker said. “Some of the Southland teams have been beating up on some other big-name schools recently, so every team in the conference is the same in our eyes.”
Besides the upcoming conference games on the schedule, the Colonels will play 2-3 nonconference, midweek games each week.
Thibodeaux said that although it is sometimes challenging getting through the week, these games are beneficial to the team.
“These midweek games can be crucial for us and I always look at them as great opportunities,” Thibodeaux said. “They get our mind away from the conference because every weekend we play three in a row, which isn’t like any other sport. The games we play midweek really recharge and energize us into the weekend.”
Although Tucker said the Colonels set the same goals for every game they play, he knows the conference games, specifically, are important for the team’s success in post season play.
“We approach every game the same way; every single game we’re trying to win,” Tucker said. “The midweek games are good to keep us up to speed and in the game mentality. We also know that the conference games are very important for many reasons, including making the conference tournament and going on to regionals.”
Toward the end of the season last year, the Demons swept the Colonels at Ray E. Didier Field. Thibodeaux said he has not forgotten about those games, and since the loss is so fresh in the minds of his players, it will motivate them this weekend.
“Northwestern had a bunch of older, more mature players and when they came over here, everything went their way. I know that our players haven’t forgotten about that weekend,” Thibodeaux said. “All summer long I was thinking about that series, and I’m ready for this weekend because of that. I guarantee that our players are going to be ready to go.”
The Colonels failed to make the post season last year, but the previous two years, Nicholls and Northwestern finished among the top 3 teams in the Southland Conference Tournament.
Since coming head to head with Northwestern has been a common trend in the past few years for the Colonels, Thibodeaux said winning this weekend could directly impact the success they have in winning the league.
Tucker also said this weekend has the power to influence the rest of the season, whether or not the Colonels earn a spot in the tournament this year.
“We’re looking forward to getting a good start so that we don’t have to worry on the last weekend whether we are in the conference tournament or not,” Tucker said. “I think there’s a little bit more fuel for the fire this year going to Northwestern to open up the conference because of last year. It’s definitely still fresh on our minds.”