Baseball to begin nonconference play this week against Arkansas State

 Junior catcher Jake Zarrello swings at bat during the teams baseball practice. The Lumberjacks will play a three-game series against Arkansas State University this weekend in Jonesboro, Arkansas

The SFA baseball team is up to bat for the 2020 season as they play the Arkansas State University Red Wolves to begin a slate of non conference games at 6 p.m. Friday in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

Head coach Johnny Cardenas returns for his 12th season with the SFA baseball team. The Lumberjacks finished No. 6 last season with a 16-14 record in the SLC and an overall 25-33 season record. At the season’s end, SFA had a .533 win percentage in the SLC, along with a .431 overall win percentage. The Sam Houston State University Bearkats had the highest amount of wins in the SLC with the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions behind them.

Out of the 35-member roster, the Lumberjacks welcome 14 returning players and 21 new recruits. Along with the new players, the Lumberjacks also welcome Dylan Belanger, who will serve as the new volunteer assistant head coach and camp coordinator for the team. Prior to arriving at SFA, Belanger was the assistant coach for the University of New Orleans Privateers, where he served as a first base and outfield coach. Belanger has also been on the baseball coaching staff for the Holmes Community College, Hinds Community College and Mississippi Delta Community College.

Among the returning players is senior infielder Sean Moore from Waxahachie. Moore previously played for the Fort Scott Community College Greyhounds and transferred to SFA for the 2019 season. In his first season as a Lumberjack, Moore had a batting average of .245. Moore also had 47 put outs and a fielding percentage of .986.

Senior catcher Skylar Black from Chico transferred to SFA from Eastfield Community College in 2018. Last season, Black had a total of 149 putouts and a .988 fielding percentage. Black also ended the season with a .136 batting average.

Sophomore infielder Carson Clowers from West Monroe, Louisiana, had the highest amount of assists last season with 111. In putouts, Clowers had a total of 62. He also had a .956 fielding percentage.

Transfer recruits include sophomore infielder Kanen Dodge from Carencro, Louisiana, and junior right- handed pitcher Reece Easterling from College Station. Freshman recruits include outfielder Martin Rodriguez from Houston and right-handed pitcher Easton

Turnage from Granbury. SFA enters the season with eight senior athletes.

The previous SLC Champions were the McNeese State University Cowboys, who beat the University of Central Arkansas Bears in a 4-2 win. However, it is the Bearkats that have won the favor of the 2020 Southland Conference Baseball Preseason Poll. The Lumberjacks are placed at No. 11 for the preseason poll.

Along with Arkansas State, the teams that SFA plans to play in non conference matchups are the Texas A&M University Aggies and the Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.

The Lumberjacks will continue to play the Arkansas State Red Wolves until Sunday in their three- game series. SFA’s first home game will take place on Feb. 21 at Jaycees Field against the University of Texas – Arlington Mavericks.

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