It's a big night for LSU fans as, after a year and a half of injuries and rehab, Fr. LHP Jake Latz will finally make his debut for the purple and gold, starting tonight and going a maximum of two innings. Jr RHP Riley Smith will also be rejoining the active roster and will likely see some action tonight in the Johnny Wholestaff rotation. With things starting to fall back into place offensively for LSU, the return of these arms could not come at a better time, especially with relief arm Alden Cartwright now on the shelf for the rest of the year.
Finally making their appearance in Alex Box Stadium tonight, the McNeese St Cowboys (18-11, 10-5 in Southland). After spending years bouncing around the SEC, Sunbelt, Southland as an assistant, former LSU pitcher Justin Hill is starting to make a name for himself as a head coach with back to back 30 win seasons in Lake Charles. Given the SEC's proclivity for picking up Southland coaches to fill vacancies, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Hill at the helm of some SEC West team in the next decade. The Cowboy's resume this year has a few high notes like wins over UL-L and a split season series with Houston. In conference, their 10-5 record is good enough for 4th place and they're coming off a sweep of resurgent UNO, but they've yet to face the heavy hitters of the league like Lamar and Southeastern.
On the mound tonight, Jr. LHP Austin Sanders (2-2, 6.00 ERA, 21.0 IP, 10 BB, 12 SO) will likely be more of a challenge than we normally expect from midweek arms. He's responsible for McNeese's wins vs UL-L and Houston, with 5.1 and 7.0 IP outings in those games respectively. At the plate, look out for 1B Connor Crane (.382 BA/.636 SLG/.477 OBP, 11 2B, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 13/18 SB) and LF Shane Selman (.277 BA /.532 SLG/.349 OBP, 5HR, 12 RBI)