LSU-Eunice hunts for another title at NJCAA World Series

Advocate Staff Photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- LSU-Eunice's baseball team prays before a game last season at Pete Goldsby Field in Baton Rouge. The Bengals, who  went on to win the NCJAA Division II national championship last year, are looking for a repeat performance at this year's NJCAA World Series in Enid, Okla.
Advocate Staff Photo by HEATHER McCLELLAND -- LSU-Eunice's baseball team prays before a game last season at Pete Goldsby Field in Baton Rouge. The Bengals, who went on to win the NCJAA Division II national championship last year, are looking for a repeat performance at this year's NJCAA World Series in Enid, Okla.

When LSU-Eunice begins the NJCAA Division II World Series starting Saturday in Enid, Okla., the Bengals will set their sights on returning home with the school’s fifth national championship in the space of seven years.

This marks LSUE’s seventh trip to the World Series since 2004.

The Bengals (48-8) open with Lackawanna College (41-18) of Scranton, Pa., at 9 a.m. Saturday. The tournament, which ends May 31 or June 1 depending on whether the championship round requires an “if necessary” game, is double-elimination.

“It never gets old,” LSUE coach Jeff Willis said. “It’s always one of the goals your team sets way back in the fall. Having a goal like that and watching the kids reach that goal, it never gets old.”

The Bengals carry the nation’s No. 1 ranking in NJCAA Division II and are the defending national champions.

That would seemingly make LSUE the team to beat this week.

Especially when you consider that the Bengals roll out a pair of LSU signees in weekend starters Brady Domangue and Zac Person.

But Willis said his team is hardly the only one in Oklahoma that has experience in a favorite’s role.

“When you get to this situation, each team that is here has probably had a bull’s-eye on their back for the entire season in their region of the country,” Willis said. “They’re not going to walk into this tournament and take a backseat to us or anybody else.”

LSUE punched its ticket to the World Series by sweeping through the Region 23 tournament, beating Northwest Community College once and Pearl River (Miss.) twice.

Domangue (13-2, 1.26 ERA) leads the nation with 13 wins and ranks second nationally with 105 strikeouts. Person (9-0, 2.80) looks to complete his sophomore season unbeaten.

On offense, Indiana signee Casey Rodrigue enters with a .362 average and four homers.

He leads the nation with 62 steals, a single-season LSUE record.

Stefan Trosclair is batting .351 with 54 RBIs. Parkview Baptist graduate Garrett Deschamp, a Tulane signee, is at .337 with four homers and 51 RBIs.

If the Bengals bring home another World Series championship this year, they will help LSUE complete a sweep of the national hardware in baseball and softball.

The LSUE softball team won its second NJCAA Division II national title last weekend.

“That’s a unique situation,” Willis said, “but I think it’s important for our team that we not get ahead of ourselves. We need to realize we’re tremendously blessed to be in this situation.”