Southern baseball team finally plays at home

Advocate photo by JOHN OUBRESouthern coach Roger Cador talks to his players in the dugout at Pete Goldsby Field during the Jaguars' 8-6 win over Nicholls State on Wednesday. Southern, which played four 'home' games at Goldsby, returns to Lee-Hines Field on Saturday for a three-game series with Texas Southern.
Advocate photo by JOHN OUBRESouthern coach Roger Cador talks to his players in the dugout at Pete Goldsby Field during the Jaguars' 8-6 win over Nicholls State on Wednesday. Southern, which played four 'home' games at Goldsby, returns to Lee-Hines Field on Saturday for a three-game series with Texas Southern.

Southern returns to Lee-Hines Field for series against TSU

His team came from four runs down to beat Nicholls State on Wednesday night, but the clutch, late-inning win wasn’t even the highlight of Roger Cador’s week.

News that Lee-Hines Field would be ready for this weekend’s three-game series against Texas Southern had Cador summoning the late Etta James and her classic tune.

“At last,” Cador said, referencing the hit song. “At last.”

A rainy February pushed back a project at Southern’s home stadium that included renovations to the infield and drainage system at Lee-Hines Field.

The Jaguars were sent off campus to Pete Goldsby Field for their season-opening three-game series against Stillman College last month, then returned there Wednesday to play Nicholls.

They also had a Feb. 26 home game against Loyola rescheduled.

The debut of Southern’s new-look digs comes just in time for its first home series of Southwestern Athletic Conference play.

The Jaguars (6-5) will face TSU (8-7) in two nine-inning games Saturday beginning at noon. The finale of the series is a single Sunday game with a 1 p.m. start.

“At last we are getting to come home and play,” Cador said.

Cador said fans won’t get the full effect of the new field because the grass is not yet green.

“The field won’t be where it will in two or three weeks after we’ve gotten some rain and the sod gets green,” Cador said. “Then people can see what has really been done.”

After taking two of three at Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the SWAC’s opening weekend, Southern continues a road-heavy first half of the league slate.

In fact, this weekend is the only one out of the first four that Southern is at home.

But the Jaguars should have a pep in their step after the 8-6 win over Nicholls, a game they trailed 6-2 before exploding for six runs in the eighth.

A two-run single by Caleb Hatcher turned a 6-5 deficit into Southern’s first lead.

Cador said Hatcher, who finished with three RBIs, will move up in the order from the No. 9 spot.

Derrick Hopkins, who went 2-for-2 in Wednesday’s win, will sub for Brian Rowry at first base. T.J. Perkins could get the nod at designated hitter.

The Jaguars will again be without outfielders D.J. Wallace, Gavin Webster and Tyler Kirksey and shortstop Jeremy Lopez, who did not play against Nicholls because of injuries.

“We need to find a way to get them healthy,” Cador said. “It’s early in the season. We don’t really want to rush anybody back.”

Cador will go with the usual rotation of Jesse “Doc” Holiday, Jose De Leon and Daniel Garcia as his starters.

Holiday limited Texas Southern to a third-inning homer by Tyler Flanagan when the teams met Feb. 22 in the Urban Invitational at Minute Maid Park. But that was all the Tigers needed as Felix Gomez and Adrian Losoya held Southern to four hits in a 1-0 win.

Cador said playing in a big-league stadium helped keep the score down. He expects the games to include much more scoring this weekend.

“We hit the ball well,” Cador said. “We just happened to be playing in a big park.”

The trip to Southern marks TSU’s first series of SWAC play.