Lions lose in SLC championship game

It seemed like it was meant to be, but after an emotional game on Saturday, April 26 against the Stephen F. Austin (SFA) Lumberjacks, the Lions fell one game short of glory.
The Lions (39-21, 20-12) lost to UT Arlington (36-25, 19-14) in the championship game of the Southland Conference (SLC) 4-13, played in San Marcos, Texas. The final against UTA was played after the semi-final matchup between the Lions and SFA on the same day.
Though it may not seem like the Lions were close in the SLC championship game, reaching the final marked the first of any modern Southeastern baseball team.
“It was a great season,” said head coach Jay Artigues. “We won 39 games, the second most in school history, and went to the conference championship for the first time ever. I tip my hat to these guys.”
Indeed a historic season it was. Statistically, several players performed well this year, some winning awards for their play during the season. But one person cannot win you 39 games during a grueling campaign as baseball can have. Leadership plays a role, something that Artigues found in his seniors.
“They did a great job on the field, and they had a 3.23 GPA in the spring. It was a great group and the seniors deserve all the credit.”
The Lions began the tournament with two wins over tough opponents. Central Arkansas (24-30, 15-17) took two games from the Lions during their regular season meeting in Hammond, while Texas State (32-24, 19-14) was playing on their home field in San Marcos.
However, the Lions could not defeat SFA on that Friday, the ‘Jacks forcing a second game on Saturday. The Lions won the rematch in the ninth inning against the ‘Jacks, but in the end, playing a back to back on an evening in Texas took a toll on the Lions.
“Having to play that first game did take a little wind out of our sails,” said Artigues. “These guys played hard and competed well, and continued it throughout the tournament. It’s tough to play 18 innings in that heat.”
What may haunt this team is how close they were to the College World Series. With as good a run as they ever had, the NCAA selection committee did not select the Lions for the tournament, with UTA (automatic bid) and Sam Houston St. (at large bid) the only two teams from the SLC making the College World Series’ field of 64.
“This year’s club definitely deserved a chance to go,” said Artigues. “There were teams behind that slid in to the tournament. At that point it comes down to politics, and we definitely win that situation.”
But as always, there is next year. And with the chance that major contributors could return to the team, an improvement on this year’s record is not out of the question.