Grambling baseball refocuses for rivalry game, cancer awareness event

Despite coming off a devastating late-game loss against Stephen F. Austin on Sunday, Grambling will have little time to mull its 0-3 opening mark.

First-year baseball coach James Cooper must quickly refocus the team on GSU’s Tuesday home opener against cross-parish rival LA Tech. There’s also a good cause to talk about.

Cooper has helped arrange for a breast cancer-awareness program to coincide with the big game.

A new T-shirt is on sale at the university bookstore that reads: Grambling baseball supports the fight against breast cancer; this year’s schedule is on the back. Cost is $12, and proceeds will go toward research to find a cure, Cooper says.

The team will gather at the Grambling football stadium for a ceremonial walk to raise awareness to the baseball stadium, and Cooper said players would be wearing specially designed uniforms. A cancer survivor is set to throw out the first pitch, he said. Game time is 6 p.m.

“We are expecting a large crowd, not only because of the breast cancer awareness program — but also because we are playing a nearby rival,” Cooper said.

Stephen F. Austin scored 11 runs in the final four innings of play in an eventual 12-3 win on Sunday at Nacogdoches, Texas, completing a three-game sweep of Grambling. Starter Odingo Davila held SFA to just a single run and hit before the Lumberjacks put up three runs in both the fifth and sixth, then added 5 in the eighth — an inning that included a grand slam by Riley Huble.

Jeremy Shelby emerged with the conference’s best opening-weekend batting average, hitting .556 with a slugging percentage of .889. Mychal Roby — coming off a season in which he hit nine homers and drove in 39 runs — is tied for sixth in the SWAC after the initial series with a .300 batting average.

Grambling has regularly played Tech recently, but hasn’t won since 2005 — a 10-9 decision under former coach Sapp Randall that sparked a dogpile on the opposing pitcher’s mound in Ruston. The Bulldogs didn’t overlook GSU again, winning two meetings a season later by scores of 21-1 and 21-2. Tech put up a similar score in its most recent series, topping the Tigers 20-1 and then 20-9 to complete a three-game sweep in February 2009.

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