HAMMOND, Louisiana – The preseason pick to win the Southland Conference title, the success of Southeastern Louisiana University’s baseball program in 2022 rests heavily on the arms of its pitching team.
Southeastern fires eight of its nine starters offensively. Right-handed Brennan Stuprichthe reigning Southland Conference freshman of the year, and Will Kinzeler the two earned preseason All-Conference honors, but beyond the pair, there’s a look of misunderstanding on the mound.
“We’ve lost Will Warren in the draft after last season”, the head coach matt riser noted. “We had anticipated that after the career he had, so we brought in to help replace him and developed some guys over the summer. We also had injuries. Our guys were challenged early on as only personal. Unfortunately it looks like we won’t have Grant Upton this season and Brennan Stuprich we hope to be back between mid-March and the first of April.
With Stuprich missing at least the first month of the season recovering from an off-season injury, Kinzeler will be joined in the rotation by a pair of newcomers.
“Obviously when some guys go down, it creates opportunities for others to step in,” Riser said. “I feel like we did a good job of signing depth for them to be able to do that. Looking at the weekend rotation, Will Kinzeler is the mainstay on Friday. He had a great freshman year and did a really good job of becoming more physical, to the point that he should be able to finish the year throwing at the level we think he is capable of. He gained 15 to 20 pounds in the weight room and his speed increased.”
Kinzeler was named Southland’s pitcher of the week twice last season, finishing the season with a 4-4 record and 4.33 ERA. The Covington, Louisiana native nearly averages one strikeout per inning, racking up 68 in 70.2 innings of work.
“Hayden Robb will be our Saturday starter,” Riser said. “He’s a real competitor and he’s had great success on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. [Community College] entrance. He compares favorably to former Lion Tate Scioneaux in life and command of the fastball.”
A native of Vancleave, Mississippi, Robb averaged more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings during his college career.
“Hunter O’Toole will be our Sunday starter,” Riser said. “Looking at what he did last year, when he got here, he didn’t play at the level he wanted. We signed him out of junior college to be a hunk and he only pitched six innings for us last season. He’s done a great job getting back at it, losing 20 pounds and now his business is better than ever.”
After appearing just once in the first two months of the 2021 season, O’Toole carved out a relief role for himself in the final weeks of the season.
“We will try to Lance Lava be our early midweek starter,” Riser said. “A few other guys will also get the opportunity as we enter a few five-game weeks later.
Lauve battled injuries in his senior season at Holy Cross HS to put up a perfect game against John Curtis HS, striking out 12 in seven innings.
Backing up starting personnel is a deep pen.
“The good thing about the bullpen is that we have some experience there,” Riser said. “Trey Harington has been part of the program for five years now. Daniel Dugas is in its third year. Gage Trahan and Brock Batty are both seniors. We’re really going to rely on our veterans to use that experience to help us finish ball games.
Batty, Dugas, Harrington and Trahan combined for 31 appearances last season.
“Andre Landry is the x-factor for us,” Riser said. “He has elite stuff and had a really good fall. Landry has a chance to be a premium arm for us and could emerge as the closest before the end of the season.”
Dalton Aspholm, Kyle Bartley, Ethan Crayton, Adam Guth, Alex Potter, Reid Reynolds, Jacob Scherer, Noah Smith, Andrew Yuratitch, Christian Westcot are all in the mix battling to fill roles on the staff.
The Lions will be without transfers Jay Longa left-handed starter, and ryan petersa right-handed reliever, both of whom will miss the season due to injury.
Southeastern opens the regular season at home with a three-game series against SIU Edwardsville this weekend at the Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field. Games are scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
A robust non-conference schedule awaits SLU in 2022, with nearly a third of the overall competition and more than half of its road slate against teams that qualified for the NCAA playoffs last year. The Lions will face three opponents ranked in the Top 5 of the preseason, Arkansas ranked No. 2, LSU ranked No. 4 and Ole Miss ranked No. 5.
SLU will host 28 home games, representing more than half of its regular season schedule. The annual Southland Conference attendance leader welcomes playoff attendees Louisiana Tech (March 2), Ole Miss (March 15), South Alabama (April 19) and Southern Miss (April 26) to Hammond.
The first 2022 episode of Inside Southeastern Baseball featuring matt riser, presented by For House Pizza and Beer Garden, will be Monday at 12 p.m. from the restaurant in downtown Hammond. Fans can listen to each broadcast online at www.LionSports.net/ListenLive and through the Lions Gameday Experience, MyTuner Radio or Mixlr apps. The MyTuner Radio application is compatible with the Apple CarPlay software available in most recent cars.
TICKET AND PARKING INFORMATION
Single tickets are on sale for the remainder of the regular season. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to minimize queues on match days. South East students are encouraged to contact the box office prior to the game to reserve theirs in advance.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.LionSports.net/Tickets or by contacting the Southeastern Athletics box office at (985) 549-5466. Office hours are 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Friday. The Pat Kenelly Diamond box office at Alumni Field opens exactly one hour before the first scheduled pitch.
Southeastern uses mobile ticketing as its primary method of distributing tickets purchased online. Tickets will be available via text or email in PDF format for fans to download to their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded from Apple Wallet.
Parking on game days during the 2022 season is $5 per day for standard vehicles and $25 for recreational vehicles.
CLEAR BAG POLICY
Southeastern Athletics operates a clear bag policy for all ticketed events. The policy reflects the safety precautions required for entry to professional and collegiate sports venues across the country. For more information on the clear bag policy, go to www.LionSports.net/Clear.
LIONS GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE APP
The Lions Gameday Experience app puts audio, stats, video, social media and more in the hands of fans. Attendees can also check in to earn reward points redeemable for Southeast-related prizes. Available for Android and iOS devices, it can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play or by following the link www.LionSports.net/App.
DIAMOND CLUB / S CLUB
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the baseball program are encouraged to join the Diamond Club. Lion baseball alumni are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is reserved for Southeast Sports Letter winners.
All Diamond Club and S Club (baseball) membership fees and donations are available for the exclusive use of the Southeast Baseball Program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at [email protected] or (985) 549-5091 or by visiting www.LionUp.com.
For more Lions Baseball news, follow @LionUpBaseball or @MattRiser17 on Twitter, @LionUpBaseball on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.