We’ve talked enough about the players themselves, so it’s time to look at who they’ll be playing.
Louisiana Out-of-Conference Opponents
Now, you know I couldn’t go a full week without making a chart:
The first thing that probably jumps out on that chart is that Tech will play Louisiana-Lafayette four times this season. Three of those are in Lafayette, and two are this weekend. So at least we’re able to get some of that out of the way early.
The remaining game will be played at Ruston High, which is a theme among these Louisiana opponents. With the exception of ULM, all of Tech’s home games against LA schools will be played at Ruston High.
Like Tech, UL-Lafayette will go into this season missing a quite a pieces from their 2019 team. But unlike Tech, the problem isn’t graduation.
Starting 3B O’Neal Lochridge, and P Dalton Horton will retire due to injury. Infielder Nathan Camp and OF Adam Mitchell are going to a JUCOs. OF Jordan Wiley is now playing in a semi-pro league. DH Todd Lott was drafted in the ninth round of the MLB Draft. And P Logan Savoy is no longer on the team.
Both teams this weekend will be counting on new players to replace departures, and the group that gels better sooner may be halfway to a season sweep by the end of the weekend.
Like the chart says, Tech will face off against the Lions thrice over the course of the season (thank you for giving me the opportunity to use the word “thrice”). Once this weekend in Lafayette, once in Hammond, and once at Ruston High.
The Lions haven’t been to an NCAA Regional since 2017, but hopes are high in Ham Town (I hope people call it that) as D1Baseball.com listed SELA as one of their teams to watch going into the 2020 season.
A player to watch for Southeastern is Champ Artigues, a name that might sound familiar for some Tech diehards. He redshirted at Tech a year ago before transferring to SELA.
The Cowboys are predicted to finish second in often overlooked Southland Conference by Perfect Game and 3rd by the conference’s media poll.
Tech will hope to avoid SP Will Dion in both match-ups this season. Last year, Dion put up a 1.98 ERA.
That would be impressive in he major leagues, but even more so in college ball where scoring is more rampant.
The Demons are probably the worst team out of the Southland that Tech will face, predicted to finish 5th in the conference by both Perfect Game and the Southland media poll.
But… Northwestern is still expected to have a 30 win season. Which just goes to show how talented the Southland conference is.
ULM may be the worst Division 1 baseball team in the state, but the Warhawks are still predicted to be an above average team nationwide.
Both games against Louisiana-Monroe will be played in Monroe, including one game that’s technically a home game, which really stretches the definition of a home game.
Okay, I know I talked a lot about the Southland being a good baseball conference, but they’re no match for the SEC. (And there’s my one compliment for the SEC for the year).
LSU is predicted to finish 5th in the West Division by Perfect Game, but still a Top 25 team. Tech left Baton Rouge with a 12-1 victory last year, so expect a no holds barred effort by the Tigers.
The Tiger infield is experiencing a youth movement with lots of new guys expected to take on large roles. The outfield was the strength of the team a year ago, but lost two starters to the MLB draft.
Non-Louisiana Out-of-Conference Opponents
The Trojans will bring back quite a few returners, and may even have the same lineup as they did when Tech faced them in Ruston a year ago.
Troy is predicted to finish third in the Sun Belt East by Perfect Game and the Sun Belt media poll.
Maine is quite possibly the worst team Tech will face all year. The Bears are predicted to finish second to last in the America East conference by both Perfect Game and their media poll.
The best team doesn’t always win (especially all three games in a series), but this should be as close to a slam dunk as Tech has on their schedule.
But watch out for OF Hernen Sardinas, who can provide some power with his bat when needed.
Sam Houston State
While Maine is predicted to finish near the bottom of their conference, Sam Houston is predicted to win theirs. And I’ve already spent way too long hyping up the Southland Conference.
Sam Houston State is led by OF Colton Cowser, the 2019 Southland Hitter of the Year, who also geared up to play for Team USA last summer
The Shockers are predicted to finish dead last in AAC by Perfect Game and the AAC Media Poll.
Part of that is due to welcoming in new head coach Eric Wedge. It may take a season or two for Wichita State to turn it around, but they hired the right guy to lead the team. Wedge spent time in the major leagues managing the Indians and Mariners.
It’s a full month before we get into conference play, so let’s look at these teams a bit more once they have some games under their belt.
Basically, I’m saying I don’t feel like previewing them yet.
But for now, we’ll wrap up the 2020 Baseball Season Preview tomorrow.