Tulane baseball riding momentum after solid showing at Alabama

NEW ORLEANS — After being swept at home by Notre Dame late last month, the Tulane baseball team needed to do something to lift its spirits, not to mention its record.

The Green Wave did just that this past weekend, taking two of three from Alabama in Tuscaloosa to even its 2013 mark at 6-6.

“We had a huge series at Alabama,” senior pitcher David Napoli said Monday. “It was really good for the team. It was just the way we won. Everyone was fired up in the dugout, really pumped up to be there.”

Now the Wave returns home for a five-game homestand — beginning with a two-game set with Northwestern State that starts Tuesday and concluding with three games against High Point — with a boost of confidence and a zing in their play.

“We’ve gone some adversity, but we’d rather go through adversity now instead of late in the season,” Napoli said. “Maybe 6-6 doesn’t seem that good, but 6-6 is the perfect time to get on a roll.”

Napoli is slated to start against the Demons at 2 p.m. Tuesday. The senior is 0-1 but sports a 1.86 ERA in 9.2 innings.

Napoli said the squad hasn’t scouted the Demons (6-6) much, so the players aren’t sure what to expect. But he added that the Tulane pitching staff feels good and is trying to zero in on the positives, including its team ERA of 3.09.

“We’re not focusing on the other team; we’re focusing only on what we can do,” he said. “If we control only what we can control, we won’t worry about what the other team does.”

Northwestern State is hitting .249 and slugging just .329, and the Demons have struck out almost twice as many times as they’ve walked. They also appear to have limited power, smacking only three home runs so far.

The Tulane offense showed much-needed signs of life against Alabama, scoring 16 runs in the three-game trip into SEC country. Pacing the Green Wave at the plate is senior infielder Brennan Middleton, a former Parkview Baptist standout who’s hitting .420 and slugging .480.

As a team, the Wave is hitting .245 and, like the Demons, it also has had problems with power, hitting only four home runs. But Middleton said Tulane’s bats are coming around, and the Wave could feast on a Northwestern State pitching staff with a 4.99 ERA.

“I think we’re at a good point right now,” he said. “We’re at a crucial point, too, no doubt. We’re at a point where we need to kick into gear over the next couple weeks before we start our conference schedule (March 22 vs. Memphis). I feel like we’re in a good place.”

Notes

After Sunday’s game against High Point, Tulane’s players will shave their heads in conjunction with the Vs. Cancer Foundation to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. ... Coach Rick Jones’ weekly radio show debuted Monday and continues each Monday through May 20. The show begins at 2 p.m. at Desi Vega’s Steakhouse at 628 St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans and airs on WMTI-FM 106.1.