Southern loses center fielder Lance Jones for rest of season

Advocate file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Southern's Lance Jones
Advocate file photo by JOHN OUBRE -- Southern's Lance Jones

The Southern baseball team will be without center fielder and leadoff hitter Lance Jones for the rest of the season because of a stress fracture in Jones’ right foot.

The Jaguars (5-16) are scheduled to return from a one-week break and play Loyola at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Lee-Hines Field.

Gavin Webster will replace Jones in center field against Loyola right-hander Stewart Campbell and Sean Washington will play center against left-handers.

“Center field is a premium position and if you do well there defensively you have a chance to do a decent job,” Southern coach Roger Cador said. “We’re just looking for them to do the routine stuff. They just have to be OK and take pride in playing defense. They don’t have to be outstanding.”

Jones’ absence coincides with the return of shortstop Bud Morton, who has missed the last four games because of a groin strain. Morton will take over the leadoff position.

Cador said the Jaguars used the extra preparation time to work on fundamentals such as cut-offs and relays as well as situational hitting.

Though Southern won its last game, 5-2 at Nicholls State on April 1, it stranded 16 base-runners.

“We worked on concentrating more with runners on base and trying to bring them home,” Cador said.

The Jaguars haven’t enjoyed a lot success this season, but much of what it has enjoyed has been during mid-week games.

Prior to the victory at Nicholls, they were even at 3 at top-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette going to the bottom of the seventh before the bullpen collapsed in a 17-3 defeat. In their mid-week game the week before that they beat McNeese 4-3 on March 18.

“We have two impressive wins against McNeese and Nicholls,” first baseman B.J. Rowry said.

Those two games featured some of the best pitching Southern has had this season. There has been just one other game — a 4-3, 11-inning loss at Northwestern State on Feb. 28 — in which the Jaguars allowed fewer than five runs.

“We’ve been improving both pitching wise and hitting wise,” Rowry said. “We’ve been a very scrappy, resilient team.”

Southern will start Ryan Flynn, who allowed just one hit and one run against Nicholls State, though he did walk five in four innings.

“If there was a downside it was the walks,” Cador said, “but he kept the ball in the park so we’re going to give him another start.”

Cador said he plans to also use Conner Baumgardner, who got the victory against Nicholls by pitching one-run ball for four innings behind Flynn, and Rafeal Diaz, who pitched a scoreless ninth for his third save. Jacob Polk, Brady May and Cade LeBlanc are also scheduled to pitch.

Loyola is 21-21 after a 7-1 victory at Martin Methodist on Saturday. The Wolfpack was swept in a doubleheader (12-10, 6-4) to start the series.

Senior outfielder Karson Cullins of Catholic is batting .310 with a team-high 23 runs batted in after hitting .526 last week.

Cullins is one of six players on the Loyola roster who are from Baton Rouge, including four others from Catholic — sophomore pitcher/outfielder Kevin Lindsey, freshman outfielder Andrew Fournet, junior left-hander Dylan Gregoire and freshman right-hander Paul Roppolo. Senior outfielder Garrett Lacour is from Dunham.