Tuesday morning, the tarp was off the diamond at Southern University, where young ballplayers and event staff spent much of the day preparing Lee-Hines Field for the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament.
Eight teams were pulling into town, and Barret Rey’s ballclub from Alcorn State was one of them. Rey sported a grin as the Braves’ practice ended. Sunlight bounced off his shiny bald head.
The weather is lovely — and if the forecasters are correct, it’ll stay that way through the weekend. By Sunday, we’ll crown a champion.
As Rey and the Braves geared up to face Grambling at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Rey confirmed he’d send his ace, Steve Easter, to the mound.
Said Rey, whose team won last year’s tournament in Shreveport: “I’m not going to change anything. I learned that from (Roger) Cador.”
Here we go.
After three-plus months of college baseball, the SWAC tournament begins Wednesday here in Baton Rouge, and we’ll got you covered. (C’mon; we’re The Advocate. Did you expect anything less?)
We’ll tweet and blog updates throughout the day, and we’ll live-tweet the Southern-Valley game, which (hopefully) gets under way at 3 p.m.
Follow us here, at twitter.com/perrynkeys.
For now, here is one man’s opinion on each team’s chances at winning the tournament:
They’ve won 16 in a row. They’ve got all the ingredients. They’re at home. Can they execute in the clutch? Can they handle the pressure? We’re about to find out.
2W) PRAIRIE VIEW
The Panthers led the Western Division for much of this season. You cannot discount what they’ve done. Then again, they don’t lead the SWAC in any major statistical category.
Please excuse the well-worn boxing term, but these guys have the puncher’s chance. Their offense is best in the conference. If they get a few pitching gems, watch out.
4W) TEXAS SOUTHERN
Keep in mind that this is the SWAC tournament, and that almost anything can happen. TSU has been a tough cookie, and Michael Robertson has won it before. Are these Tigers a longshot? Sure.
1E) JACKSON STATE
It’s the strangest thing: Each year, JSU has a great pitching staff, and its offense puts a lot of pressure on the infield. But the Tigers keep flaming out. Is this their year? Could be.
2E) ALCORN STATE
The reigning champions suffered through a brutal 3-17 start. But they’ve got a potent lineup — and as Barret Rey said, if their starters are on, this could get interesting.
3E) ALABAMA STATE
These guys are, if nothing else, intriguing. In their first year under Mervyl Melendez, the Hornets are better. But you get the sense that they’ll be really, really good … a year from now.
4E) MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
No disrespect intended here. But if the Delta Devils defeat Southern on Wednesday, that’s a major, major upset. Don’t bank on it. They’re the fourth-best team in the East.