Baseball stays hot during regular season


Elana Guillory/The Lion's Roar

The Lions baseball team is standing in the dugout as they take on Southland Conference opponent Abilene Christian University.

After a shortened 2020 regular season, the Lions baseball team is sitting at the top of the Southland Conference with a 24-12 record 36 games into the regular season. 

One bright spot for the Lions has been pitching from underclassmen as both Will Kinzeler and Brennan Stuprich have picked up “Southland Pitcher of the Week” awards this season. 

Matt Riser, head baseball coach, shared how Stuprich has improved this season. 

“He’s stepped up after we had a few guys go down this season. At the beginning of the season, we did not really see Brennan being a starter, we saw him more as a bullpen guy, maybe even as a closer, but he’s done really well and done great so far this season,” Riser said. 

Stuprich, a freshman pitcher, also spoke on the adversity he faced before the start of the season. 

“I struggled trying to find the strike zone a little bit early in the spring. I had to commit to my fastball and work on my slider a bit,” Sturpich said. 

The Brother Martin High School graduate explained how he has relied heavily on the Lions’ defense this season, leading him to a 4-1 record and a 3.00 earned-run average.   

“I just focus on keeping my pitches low and throwing consistent strikes. I have a lot of trust in the defense day in and day out,” Stuprich said. 

After sophomore pitcher Grant Upton went down with an injury earlier this season, Stuprich described what the team needed from him. 

“Coach Riser asked me to step up and fill in for Grant Upton once he went down. I just had to have that next man up mentality and I stepped up and took advantage of the situation,” Stuprich said. 

Along with excellent pitching from underclassmen, the eighth-year head coach shared how the team has learned from their mistakes this season. 

“The guys have done a great job learning from their mistakes this season. We have also made mistakes as a coaching staff. Being able to correct those mistakes and change those mistakes has been a big part of where we are at right now,” Riser said. 

Riser commended the upperclassmen for being leaders this season, regardless of the individual player’s situation. 

“You look at guys like Trey Shaffer and the time he has spent being injured he’s been a great presence in the dugout. Connor Manola, another guy who is out for the season because of Tommy, John has also stepped up and not played the injury card as an excuse,” Riser said. 

Despite being 24-12 on the regular season, Riser explained how the Lions have to be more consistent throughout each game this season. 

“We can’t keep having a really good week, then a really bad week, then an OK week. In all honesty, I am not really happy where we are at in the season so far. I don’t want to have to play a game and worry whether or not we can hold onto first place. I want to play in games where we can focus on distancing ourselves from the rest of the pack,” Riser said.  

After defeating Stephen F. Austin over the weekend, the Lions will set their focus on in-state rival University of New Orleans this week in the Pontchartrain Bowl.