HAMMOND – A beefed-up Southland Conference slate, along with challenging and diverse nonconference action against opponents from six separate conferences, awaits the Southeastern Louisiana baseball program on its 2021 regular-season schedule.
Marquee opponents include Collegiate Baseball’s Preseason No. 7-ranked LSU (12-5), No. 10-ranked Arizona (10-5), No. 29-ranked Southern Miss (12-4) and No. 43-ranked Tulane (15-2). The Lions will also host key conference opponents McNeese, Nicholls and Sam Houston.
“The schedule looks different than it did last year, even here in the last three weeks it has changed,” head coach Matt Riser said. “It’s all about being able to adapt and go play what you need in non-conference play so you are ready to win a conference championship.”
The Lions open the season Friday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m., hosting Mississippi Valley State in the opener of a three-game series at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field before heading west for a four-game series at Arizona.
“We were fortunate to get a series at No. 10-ranked Arizona,” Riser said. “Coach Jay Johnson and those guys do a tremendous job running a great program. They will challenge us early and allow us to see what we have. We like what we have for a ball club from a pitching, hitting and fielding standpoint.”
It will be the Lions’ farthest trip west since a 2015 series against Utah in Salt Lake City and their first trip back to Tucson, Ariz., since the 1992 NCAA West Regional.
Following the Arizona series, Southeastern returns home for an eight-game homestand with matchups against Tulane, Troy and the conference opener against Sam Houston State.
“That’s a great home series with Troy,” Riser said. “They’ll be contending for the Sun Belt championship, like they do year-in and year-out.”
A nine-game road trip follows with stops at LSU, Incarnate Word and Lamar.
Returning home, the Lions host McNeese and Abilene Christian before embarking on an eight-game trip to Stephen F. Austin and a Pontchartrain Bowl matchup at New Orleans.
Southeastern currently has an open weekend, April 30-May 2, and is actively searching for an opponent, home or away, following a cancellation created by a non-conference opponent’s COVID-related schedule restructuring. Interested schools should contact Riser as soon as possible.
Following the possible open weekend, the Lions travel to Hattiesburg, Miss., for a non-conference game at Southern Miss.
“We were limited in the number of midweek contests we could have, but with the three we do have, it turns into a really nice schedule.” Riser said. “I expect Tulane to be a Top 25 club by the time we play them, LSU is one of the five best in the nation and then going to another Top 25-caliber club in Southern Miss.
The Lions stop back by Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field for three games against in-state rival Nicholls, wrapping up the series with a single game in Thibodaux. The regular season concludes with four-game series at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and at home against Houston Baptist.
CONFERENCE SCHEDULE FORMAT
The Southland Conference Board of Directors approved a modified schedule format for the 2021 baseball conference season in which member institutions will play 40 league games. Each of the school’s 10 previously-scheduled weekend series will expand from a three-game series to four games.
The format for each series will include a nine-inning game on Friday and on Sunday and a doubleheader on Saturday with game one played to seven innings and game two played to nine innings. Should game one of the doubleheader go to extra innings, game two would become a seven-inning contest.
The presidents and athletic directors also approved a participation minimum of 24 student-athletes, which must include 13 pitchers and 11 position players (two of which must be catchers). Should a team drop below the four-game minimum, the coach has the discretion to play a four-game series or revert to a three-game series by mutual agreement.
Conference play will begin March 12-14 and run through May 20-22. Members may schedule up to 16 non-conference contests at the program’s discretion for a maximum of 56 regular-season games.
The 2021 Southland Conference Baseball Tournament will be held May 26-29 at a location to be determined. On Jan. 13, the conference reinstated full postseason participation for upcoming 2020-21 league championship events, including expanding the baseball tournament field back to the top eight schools.
Season ticket renewals for 2020 season ticketholders are underway and run through January 29. During this time, baseball ticket sales are restricted to renewals only.
Southeastern is implementing mobile ticketing as the primary method for securing tickets during the 2020-21 school year. Tickets will be available via email in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.
Single-game tickets can still be purchased online at www.LionSports.net/Tickets or by contacting the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Fridays. The ticket booth at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field opens exactly one hour prior to the scheduled first pitch.