Lions stocked with talent around the horn

Published 1:47 pm Wednesday, February 16, 2022

With four Preseason All-Southland Conference selections among its catchers and infielders, the Southeastern Louisiana University baseball program is stocked with talent heading into the 2022 season.

“We’re really excited about this,” head coach Matt Riser said.

Catcher Bryce Grizzaffi, first baseman Preston Faulkner and shortstop Evan Keller earned first-team preseason honors from the conference and second baseman Rhett Rosevear received second-team honors.

“Keller has done such a good job of being a leader on and off the field,” Riser said. “He goes about his business about as mature and professional as anyone that’s come through this program.”

The Lions’ primary leadoff hitter last season, Keller reached base in a team-high 39 consecutive games from a March 3 non-conference contest against Tulane through the first game of a May 14 doubleheader at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The native of Destrehan, Louisiana hit .315 with a team-high 15 doubles and 47 runs scored. His 19 stolen bases ranked second on the team and third in the Southland. He also ranked ninth in on-base percentage (.425), doubles and runs scored.

Joining Keller as an All-Conference selection last season, Faulkner hit .269 with a team-leading eight home runs and 48 RBIs. The native of Denham Springs, Louisiana ranked fifth in the Southland in sacrifice flies (4), sixth in both RBIs and walks (31), 11th in home runs and 12th in HBPs (11).

Rosevear solidified a role in the second half of last season on the way to earning All-Tournament honors. The native of Denham Springs led the team with a .477 on-base percentage. During the Southland Tournament in Hammond, Rosevear hit .500 with a double, home run and three RBIs.

The biggest position battle of the spring has been at third base, with as many as five players vying for playing time.

“We had an open position at third base and Shea Thomas might be as dynamic, with the ability to hit for power and average, that we’ve had at that position in a long time.”

Thomas turned in an All-Conference performance last season at Edmonds College in Lynnwood, Washington. The right-handed hitter slashed .360 / .474 / .523 in 32 games, producing 10 doubles, one triple and a pair of home runs.

Southeastern’s roster is deep around the infield with Champ Artigues, Ethan Butler, Tyler Finke, Grizzaffi, Trey Harrington, Pierce Leavengood, Taylor Phillips, TJ Salvaggio, Logan Shurden and Christian Westcott all possessing the ability to play at least infield position. Butler can also lend a hand behind the dish.

“Champ is a left-handed bat that we can mix in at second base or as the designated hitter,” Riser said. “Also look for TJ Salvaggio as well, he’s a very defensive-oriented freshman that can play short. His future is bright and we’d like to get him some experience.”

Splitting time behind the dish last season, Grizzaffi hit .295 with four doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs. He also scored 20 runs. The native of Morgan City, Louisiana threw out nine would-be base stealers in 14 attempts for a conference-high 64 percent success rate.

“Grizzaffi is a super athlete,” Riser said. “Obviously, the arms strength is key, but he has also matured so much. He’s learned to control the game and the pitching staff, taking over as a commander on the field. Bryce also provides an offensive spark that allows us to use him as the designated hitter when he’s not behind the plate.”

Back after missing the entire 2021 season with an injury is veteran catcher Connor Manola.

“We’re very fortunate to get Connor back,” Riser said. “It gives us the two-catcher system we want. With a 1A and 1B back there, they will have the ability to grind through a 60-plus game schedule.”

Joining the duo is Brusly H.S. graduate Michael Curry.

“You’ll also see Curry behind the plate some,” Riser said. “A true freshman that did a really good job showing his maturity during our fall world series, Curry proved he can play beyond his years defensively.”

Southeastern opens the regular season at home with a three-game series against SIU Edwardsville this weekend at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field. Games are scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

A rugged non-conference schedule awaits SLU in 2022, with nearly one-third of the overall competition and more than half of its road slate against teams that advanced to the NCAA postseason this past year. The Lions will face three opponents ranked in the preseason Top 5, No. 2-ranked Arkansas, No. 4-ranked LSU and No. 5-ranked Ole Miss.

SLU will host 28 home games, comprising more than half of its regular-season schedule. The Southland Conference’s annual attendance leader welcomes postseason participants Louisiana Tech (March 2), Ole Miss (March 15), South Alabama (Apr. 19) and Southern Miss (Apr. 26) to Hammond.

RADIO SHOW

The 2022 debut episode of Inside Southeastern Baseball with Matt Riser, presented by Pour House Pizza and Beer Garden, will be Monday at 12 p.m. from the restaurant in downtown Hammond. Fans can listen to every show online at www.LionSports.net/ListenLive and via the Lions Gameday Experience, MyTuner Radio or Mixlr apps. The MyTuner Radio app is compatible with the Apple CarPlay software available in most newer automobiles.

TICKET & PARKING INFORMATION
Single-game tickets go on sale Wednesday for the remainder of the regular season. Fans are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance to minimize ticket lines on game days. Southeastern students are encouraged to contact the ticket office prior to the game to reserve theirs in advance.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.LionSports.net/Tickets or by contacting the Southeastern Athletics Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466. Office hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Fridays. The ticket booth at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field opens exactly one hour prior to the scheduled first pitch.

Southeastern uses mobile ticketing as the primary method for distributing tickets purchased online. Tickets will be available via text message or email in a PDF format for fans to download on their phone or print at home. Tickets can also be downloaded to Apple Wallet.

Gameday parking during the 2022 season is $5 per day for standard vehicles and $25 for RVs.

CLEAR BAG POLICY
Southeastern Athletics enforces a clear bag policy for all ticketed events. The policy mirrors safety precautions required for entrance to professional and collegiate sporting venues throughout the country. For more information on the clear bag policy, visit www.LionSports.net/Clear.

LIONS GAMEDAY EXPERIENCE APP
The Lions Gameday Experience app puts audio, stats, video, social media and more in the hands of fans. Those in attendance can also check in to earn reward points redeemable for Southeastern-related prizes. Available for both Android and iOS devices, it can be downloaded from the App Store and Google Play or by following the link www.LionSports.net/App.

DIAMOND CLUB / S CLUB
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the baseball program are encouraged to join the Diamond Club. Lion baseball alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.

All membership fees and donations to both the Diamond Club and S Club (baseball) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern baseball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at laa@southeastern.edu or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA
For more information on Lions Baseball, follow @LionUpBaseball or @MattRiser17 on Twitter, @LionUpBaseball on Instagram and Facebook, and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.

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