First-year head coach Lane Burroughs will lead the Demons in a new campaign after NSU finished last season 19-32 with a 14-19 Southland Conference record.
“Like most other teams in the country, we are like horses getting ready to have the gates opened,” said Burroughs. “We have already figured out a lineup that we think we’re going to play. We have one spot that a couple of guys are battling for, but I feel good about what we’re going with.”
Grambling finished last season 22-26 and 13-11 in Southwest Athletic Conference play. The Tigers return Newcomer of the Year Darren Farmer who attended the same high school as Burroughs and was coached at Meridian Community College by new NSU pitching coach Chris Curry.
“I tell our guys everyday, we’re facing a nameless, faceless opponent. We’re not playing Grambling this weekend,” said Burroughs. “That’s what I want our guys to focus on throughout the year.
“Our goal is to get better every time we go out,” he said. “I want our guys to go out and attack the game of baseball and not worry about who is in the other dugout. It doesn’t matter who it is because we’re going to approach the game in the same way.”
NSU returns 10 lettermen from last year’s squad including Will Watson who was named Preseason All-Southland Conference first team. Watson, a three-year starter at first base and outfield, led the team in batting average (.335), on base percentage (.420), hits (60), triples (2), total bases (74), and stolen bases (23) last season.
Other returning lettermen are seniors Nick Purdy and Matt Baca. Purdy, catcher, was named to the Preseason All-SLC second team after starting 43 of 51 games and leading the team in walks with 33. Baca, outfield and designated hitter, hit .295 last season in 28 games with two home runs and 25 runs batted in.
The 2013 team will feature 20 newcomers to the team including projected opening day pitcher Joey Parrack. The lefty was 7-2 at Fort Scott Community College (Kan.) and finished with a 2.24 earned run average and 64 strikeouts in 67 inning pitched.
Cort Brinson, the Mississippi Class 6A Player of the Year, will also work his way into the lineup. Brinson hit .461 with eight home runs and 47 RBU, posting a .814 slugging percentage and .562 on base percentage.
“I feel like we have a good mix. I like our guys that have come back because they’ve been around Division I baseball and they have helped the new guys through it,” said Burroughs. “We have a lot of junior college guys that haven’t played at this level, but they have played college baseball at some level.”
This weekend’s series is the first of two for the Demons at Brown-Stroud Field. Next weekend, the Demons will host Texas-Pan American starting at 6:30 on Friday.