Southeastern Louisiana promotes Riser to baseball coach

HAMMOND — Southeastern Louisiana University Athletic Director Jay Artigues didn’t have to go far to find his successor as the school’s baseball coach.

And he’s hoping Matt Riser can take the program to another level.

The Lions named Riser, 30, as the school’s 16th baseball coach at a news conference on campus Tuesday.

Riser was serving as Southeastern’s interim coach after Artigues stepped down to take over as athletic director in June.

Although it is his first head coaching job, Riser isn’t new to Southeastern, having been on Artigues’ staff since 2008, most recently serving as the team’s primary hitting coach, third-base coach and recruiting coordinator. He also worked with the team’s outfielders.

Riser inherits a program that advanced to the Southland Conference tournament championship game the past two seasons, compiling a 75-45 record in that span.

“When you look at this, this isn’t a program we’re taking over that’s only won 20 games,” Riser said. “It’s not a program I’m taking over that’s trying to find an identity. This is a program that has an identity. This is a program that is well-known throughout the community as being good kids and good players.

“I’d much rather be in this position than the other position, because when you start building a program ... it takes a couple years to build that program.”

Riser also played for Artigues at Pearl River Community College before playing at Tulane, where he earned a degree in biomedical engineering in 2007.

Artigues said Riser was the only person to interview for the job.

“Whenever you hire a new coach, to me, the first thing you look at is, is that person a good role model? Matt Riser, without question, ‘yes,’ ” Artigues said. “Is that somebody I’d love for my kids to play for one day? With Matt, no doubt about it, the answer is ‘yes’ to that question. Matt’s the guy that I feel can take that baton and take this program even to another level.”

Riser said one of his goals is to continue to recruit quality players — on the field and off.

“There’s plenty of student-athletes out there that we can go out and get that are first- and second-rounders maybe talent-wise, but they don’t fit our mold of what we want as far as person-wise, community-wise,” Riser said. “We demand a lot on them to do that for us, and they go out every day and give us their best ... and for them to do that, that helps us also build the program to the next level.”

Riser, whose team features 20 returning letterwinners from last season, said he knows it’s a challenge to follow Artigues, but one he’s looking forward to meeting.

“I’m thrown into the fire, yeah,” Riser said. “Maybe it’s a little bit of pressure, but we’re in the right opportunity — the opportunity that we have (as) a team, a club, that can win a championship and do some special things here at Southeastern that’s never been done before.”

Southeastern opens the season 6 p.m. Feb. 14 at Louisiana Tech.