HAMMOND, La. – The talent running through the Southeastern Louisiana baseball program the past few years has not gone unnoticed by Major League Baseball organizations. Ten Lions have been drafted the past three seasons and the 2016 draft class, the largest in program history, included the entire Southeastern pitching rotation.
Seniors Domenick Carlini, Pat Cashman and Kyle Cedotal signed professional contracts, but Mac Sceroler, draft eligible as a sophomore last season, returns in 2017 despite being taken in the 36th round by the Philadelphia Phillies.
“To get a guy back of Mac’s caliber speaks volumes for our program and the direction we are headed,” head coach Matt Riser said. “His decision to come back and play for championships tells you a lot about the competitor he is. Mac will obviously play a vital role in taking our program to another level.”
Sceroler finished his sophomore season with a 10-4 record and 2.25 ERA in 96 innings pitched. He struck out 93 batters, walking 33, and holding opponents to a .231 batting average. The right-hander from Denham Springs, Louisiana, led both the team and Southland Conference in wins, becoming the 11th pitcher in school history to earn double-digit victories in a single season. He also led the staff in strikeouts and was among the Top-5 in the conference in several statistical categories.
Riser has Sceroler penciled in for an opening-night matchup between the preseason No. 36-ranked Lions and No 14-ranked UL Lafayette, but beyond that talent will make up for a lack of starting experience.
“This won’t be your typical staff with a traditional rotation of Friday, Saturday, Sunday starters and then the midweek guys,” Riser said. “The last few years we’ve been very fortunate to have our main guys go out there every week and know what’s expected of them. We feel this staff is deeper than what we’ve had in the past. Guys can fill multiple roles. They’re versatile in what they do, from closing to long relief – short relief to starters. Having Mac back is huge for our program. He may be the only constant you see in the rotation every weekend.”
For the second time in two seasons, Riser is moving his closer to the starting rotation.
“We’re moving Kade Granier out of the closing role and into the starting rotation,” Riser said. “Josh Green gave us the comfort of being able to finish games last year. Granier is more suited to be a starter with his repertoire.”
Granier, a junior from Destrehan, Louisiana, will look to replicate the success Sceroler had in making the same move last season.
The 2016 Southland Conference Relief Pitcher of the Year, Granier heads into 2017 as preseason All-Southland selection. The right-hander pitched in a team-high 22 games last season, all in relief, compiling a 5-1 record with seven saves and 1.42 ERA in 38 innings of work. Granier held opponents to a .213 batting average, walking 14 and striking out 34 batters. He also earned Southland All-Academic honors.
Granier draws the Sunday starting assignment opening weekend against Murray State, while sophomore Payton Robinson slots into the middle of the rotation to face Hofstra.
“Sometimes the rotation will be right, right, right,” Riser said. “We may want to mix in a lefty depending on who we’re facing. With a pair of tournaments in the first three weeks, meaning three different weekend opponents, we’ll mix and match. Early in the season we’ll play it more to take the game at hand.”
Robinson, southpaw from Mobile, Alabama, has turned in a strong body of work in preseason workouts after compiling a 1-0 record and 5.18 ERA in 24.1 innings of work last season. He held opponents to a .227 batting average, walking nine and striking out 25 batters.
In relief, the Lions have a dominant lefty-righty combo.
“To be honest, the last couple of years, it was the guy I was most confident in to close things out and put me at ease in the dugout,” Riser said. “Green gave us those warm and fuzzies at the end of the last season, so he’ll combine with Drew Avans in the closing role. It’ll be a little different with Avans starting in left so we’ll have to mix and match.”
Green, a junior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, came on strong down the stretch for the Lions in 2016, closing out a couple key wins in May and June. He compiled an 0-2 record with a four saves and a 2.04 ERA in 35.1 innings of work. The right-hander walked just one batter in his final 31.1 innings pitched. Green earned the first two saves of his career in series sweep at Lamar. His other two saves came during the postseason, against McNeese in the Southland Conference Tournament and Utah Valley in the NCAA Regional.
Avans, a junior from left-hander from Alabaster, Alabama, compiled a 1-2 record and three saves to go with a 2.00 ERA in 2016. He held opponents to a .188 batting average, walking eight and fanning 23 in 18 innings of work, splitting time between the mound and left field.
With other roles still to be determined, the Lions are just scratching the surface of a deep staff.
Southeastern opens the 2017 season at home, Feb. 17, hosting Hofstra, Murray State and No. 14-ranked UL Lafayette in the Tangi Tourism Baseball Classic.
Baseball season tickets, as well as individual game tickets for the season-opening, round-robin event, are currently on sale. Season ticket options include box seats ($279), reserved seats ($128) and general admission ($103). A family plan that includes two adult and two youth (ages 3-12) general admission tickets is also available for $206. Southeastern students will be admitted free to home games with a valid university ID card.
Fans have until the Lions’ season opener to purchase season ticket packages and can do so by contacting the athletics ticket office at (985) 549-5466 or 1-866-LION-TIX. Ticket office hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Fridays.
# Player Pos B/T Ht Wt Cl. — Hometown — Last School
1 Tyler Booth P L/L 5-11 181 Fr. — Lake Charles, La. — Barbe HS
4 Drew Avans OF/P L/L 5-10 188 Jr. — Alabaster, Ala. — Thompson HS
5 Derrick Mount IF/P R/R 5-11 180 Sr. — Saucier, Miss. — Pearl River CC (Harrison Central HS)
7 Gage Pickett P R/R 5-9 170 R-Jr. — Denham Springs, La. — Parkview Baptist HS
8 Carlo Graffeo P R/R 5-11 175 So. — Covington, La. — St. Paul’s HS
9 Matt Dalke P R/R 5-11 170 R-Fr. — Phoenix, Ariz. — North Canyon HS
10 Payton Robinson P L/L 6-2 177 So. — Mobile, Ala. — St. Paul’s Episcopal HS
11 Kade Granier P R/R 6-4 219 Jr. — Destrehan, La. — Destrehan HS
12 Mac Sceroler P R/R 6-4 205 Jr. — Denham Springs, La. — Denham Springs HS
14 Cole Martin P L/L 6-1 175 Fr. — Destrehan, La. — Destrehan HS
21 John Badgett P R/R 6-3 185 Jr. — Arvada, Colo. — Cloud County CC (Arvada West HS)
22 Josh Green P R/R 6-2 199 Jr. — Baton Rouge, La. — Parkview Baptist HS
25 Corey Gaconi P R/R 6-4 225 So. — Metairie, La. — Brother Martin HS
26 Trey Morgan IF/P R/R 6-0 182 Fr. — St. Francisville, La. — West Feliciana HS
29 Carlisle Koestler P R/R 5-10 185 R-So. — Vicksburg, Miss. — Hinds CC (Warren Central HS)
30 Evan Hileman P R/R 5-10 187 Jr. — St. Rose, La. — Delgado CC (John Curtis HS)
31 Sam Huser P R/R 6-1 180 R-Fr. — Cullman, Ala. — Cullman HS
32 Cliff Hurst P R/R 5-11 240 R-Sr. — Clinton, La. — SW Miss. — CC (Centreville Academy)
38 Bryce Tassin P R/R 6-2 190 R-Fr. — Walker, La. — Walker HS
40 Austin Chastang P R/R 6-3 220 Fr. — Bay Minette, Ala. — Bayside Academy