LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - It has been 10 years since McNeese State hosted the Lake Area Classic. Thanks to the wintry weather across the country, McNeese will revive it this weekend.
McNeese was set to host a season-opening three-game series against Chicago State. Now joining the duo for a seven-game, three-day classic will be Missouri and Southern Miss.
"This is great opportunity for our program and players to host these three teams," said McNeese head coach Justin Hill. "We are very grateful that Chicago State agreed to play Missouri and Southern Miss on such short notice."
The three-day round robin tournament begins at 6 p.m. Friday with the Cowboys facing Chicago State.
Saturday will feature three games that will give fans thinking an NCAA regional setting as Southern Miss is scheduled to face Missouri at 11 a.m. The 3 p.m. game will match McNeese against Missouri, while the nightcap features Chicago State vs. Southern Miss at 7 p.m.
The Classic concludes Sunday with Missouri taking on Chicago State at 1 p.m. and McNeese facing Southern Miss following at 4:30 p.m.
"It certainly has an NCAA Regional feel to it with our coaches scrambling to get any bit of information you can on your opponents," Hill said. "That being said, it won't change anything we are going to do this weekend. Our rotation will remain the same, and we plan on going out and playing good baseball."
Chicago State (10-45 in 2013) loses four starters from its 2013 team and will bring in 15 new faces when they travel to Louisiana this weekend. Mattingly Romanin enters the season as the Cougars top hitter having finished with a .284 average along with 32 RBI RHP Dylan Sterrett is expected to start on the mound Friday night. He pitched in 14 games last season earning only one victory and tallied 49 strikeouts in 89.2 innings.
Missouri (18-32 in 2013) becomes the first SEC other than LSU to play at Cowboy Diamond since Arkansas in 2011. The Tigers return eight starters and most of its pitching staff a year ago. Returning offensively this year are All-SEC performer Keaton Steele and All-SEC Freshman selection Josh Lester. The Mizzou pitching staff will have plenty of depth as it brings back 11 hurlers who pitched in a game last season and two weekend starters.
Southern Miss (30-27 in 2013) who has had a rich baseball tradition, makes its way to Lake Charles as the Golden Eagles face the Cowboys for the first time since 2005. Southern Miss returns only four position starters from last season but brings a wealth of experience back in the pitching department. The Golden Eagles bring back 14 pitchers from last season led by senior Connor Fisk who finished 2013 with a 4-3 record and a 3.23 ERA and junior Bradley Roney who recorded seven saves last year.
"I haven't had a chance to speak to our players yet, but I am sure they are excited about this opportunity to play an SEC team in Missouri and Southern Miss, who was in Omaha not too long ago, as well as a quality opponent in Chicago State," said Hill.
Fans who have tickets for this weekend's game will use their Friday ticket as originally planned. For Saturday, the ticket booth will open at 10 a.m. Season ticket holders can use their Chicago State Game 2 ticket as an all day pass that is valid for all three games. General admission tickets will be $10 and be good for all three games.
On Sunday, the ticket booth will open at noon. Season ticket holders will be able to use their Chicago State game three ticket as an all day pass and general admission tickets will be $10 and be good for both games.
*McNeese State vs. Chicago State, 6 p.m.
*Southern Miss vs. Missouri, 11 a.m.
*McNeese vs. Missouri, 3 p.m.
*Chicago State vs. Southern Miss, 7 p.m.
*Missouri vs. Chicago State, 1 p.m.
*McNeese vs. Southern Miss, 4:30 p.m.