• July 5, 2024

Getting to Know the Southland: Baseball

Getting to Know the Southland: Baseball

Southland Conference baseball has been on the rise in recent years, ranking as the 14th best conference out of 30 in RPI while placing two teams in the top 70 in 2024.

This is the second-straight season in which the Southland has ranked 14th after jumping from 18th in the 2022 and 20th in 2021.

The Southland was led this season by regular season champion Lamar, the only team to sweep then No. 25 Oklahoma in a 3-game road series this season. Lamar ranked 63rd in the final RPI with a record of 44-15 after spending significant time either ranked or receiving votes. Nicholls, the Southland Conference Tournament Champion, was right behind with an RPI of 69 and a record of 38-22 after playing the toughest schedule in the league, ranking 79th overall and 33rd in non-conference strength of schedule.

In 2024, Southland Conference baseball will consist of 11 members, including UTRGV, Houston Christian, Incarnate Word, Lamar, McNeese, New Orleans, Nicholls, Northwestern State, Stephen F. Austin, Southeastern, and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Texas A&M-Commerce, the other full-time member of the Southland, does not compete in baseball.

Among current members, Lamar has won a league-best 12 conference championships, followed by Northwestern State with nine, McNeese with five, and Nicholls and Southeastern with one each. McNeese has won the most Southland Conference Tournament Championships among current members with five, followed by Lamar and Nicholls with three each, Southeastern with two, and Houston Christian and Northwestern State with one each.

Including five from UTRGV and three from fellow new member Stephen F. Austin, current Southland Conference institutions have sent 38 players to Major League Baseball, including seven currently in the show – Grant Anderson (McNeese, Texas Rangers), David Fry (Northwestern State, Milwaukee Brewers), Bryan King (McNeese, Seattle Mariners), Wade Miley (Southeastern, Milwaukee Brewers), Jace Peterson (McNeese, Arizona Diamondbacks), Tanner Rainey (Southeastern, Washington Nationals), and Will Vest (Stephen F. Austin, Detroit Tigers).

Southland Conference alumni to play in the major leagues include pitchers Chuck Finley, a 200-game winner with over 2,600 strikeouts during a 17-year MLB career that included five trips to the all-star game, Ben Sheets, who led Team USA to the 2000 Olympic Gold Medal ahead of a 10-year MLB career that included four all-star games, and John Lakcey, who won three World Series titles during a 15-year MLB career, and sluggers Paul Goldschmidt, a seven-time MLB All-Star, two-time Hank Aaron Award winner and 2022 NL MVP now with the St. Louis Cardinals and competing in his 14th season, and Hunter Pence, who made four all-star teams in 14 seasons while winning two World Series titles.

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