Grambling Challenging For SWAC Baseball Title

Grambling State University head baseball coach James Cooper knows that his Tigers are in for a challenge. The Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) schedule allows for very little time to enjoy victories.

After starting the season 1-5, since then, Grambling is 15-16 overall and has won four straight games, including a recent three-game sweep of conference rival Southern University.

Cooper knows his team is in for a test, but the players are ready for it. Grambling sits atop of the SWAC West Division with an 11-4 mark and is ranked No. 4 in the latest Black College Nines (BCN) Top 10 Historically Black College and University poll.

Grambling very well knows it doesn’t matter who you’re playing or where you’re playing in the SWAC, it’s going to be a tremendous competition.

Offensively, the Tigers are a team of threes. Third in nearly every SWAC statistical category including third in slugging percentage (.406), runs scored (240), runs batted in (216), doubles (56), homes runs (28), total bases (432), at-bats (1065), and stolen bases (59). The same holds true in the fielding categories where they are ranked third in fielding chances (1150), put outs (795) and fielding assists (310). What does all of this mean?

Grambling State won’t beat themselves. The Tigers ballclub is a well-rounded, fundamental team that defends well and takes its cuts at the plate, which has helped to win numerous conference games this season. Grambling has won four of five weekend conference series which is the second most through the first seven weeks of the season and the reason they are leading the division.

Grambling’s lineup fared well last weekend against Southern, scoring 37 runs during the three-game series and has tallied 57 runs scored riding a four-game winning streak. Of its last 11 games, Grambling has won eight.

Grambling brings some mighty sluggers to the plate in Daniel Barnett, (.408 BA, 7 HR, 42 RBI) and Larry Barraza (.300 BA, 3 HR, 22 RBI). Also, Tray Bell has filled in nicely for the Tigers. Although only batting .207, he has driven in 28 runs.

The Tigers have a tough pitching staff fronted by starting right-hander workhorse Issac O’Bear (5-2, 5.12 ERA) and Creighton Hoover (4-2). With these two clicking and depth in the bullpen, Grambling has few weaknesses.

Through the midway point of the season, the SWAC is wide open and Grambling is surprisingly a leading choice to take the conference given it wasn’t considered so entering the season. The talent is there for them to be a factor and it’s showing as of late.

Grambling is proving that it can beat you in more ways than one. However, the challenge ramps up this second half of the season. To get to the conference championship, the Tigers must keep grinding and keep working. That’s probably the most important thing for Grambling baseball right now because you’re never there in the SWAC until the final out.

 

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