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Baseball: Familiar face returning for NCAA Regional in Lafayette

Tim Buckley, The Advertiser, May 30, 2016


UL second baseman Stefan Trosclair speaks with members of the media after the Cajuns learned Sam Houston State, Arizona and Princeton were sent to the Lafayette Regional.(Photo: SCOTT CLAUSE/THE ADVERTISER)


A familiar face is coming back to M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field.


The four-team NCAA Lafayette Regional opens Friday at The Tigue with UL playing host to Princeton and Arizona facing Sam Houston State, which is coached by former Ragin’ Cajuns assistant coach Matt Deggs.

Deggs was UL’s hitting coach for two full seasons in 2013 and 2014, when the Cajuns went 58-10 and finished the season ranked in the top 10 in the nation in 14 offensive categories.

One of his assistants at SHSU is Lance Harvell, who prior to joining Deggs’ staff in 2015 was a volunteer assistant at UL.

“To get the opportunity to host at home, and also to see Deggs and them come back to play (here),” senior pitcher Nick Zaunbrecher said, “it’s really exciting.”

“It’s like it’s meant to be for him to come back out here,” second baseman Stefan Trosclair added. “You can’t get rid of him, huh?”

Deggs’ 41-20 Bearkats visited The Tigue on the opening weekend of the season for a three-game non-conference series, and UL swept them 2-1, 6-2 and 13-3.

They’re vastly improved since then, however, and coming into the Regional having won 35 of their last 43 games, including a victory over Southeastern Louisiana in the Southland Conference Tournament that produced an automatic bid into the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.

“He’s a great coach, and they’ve got a great team,” Trosclair said. “We’ll look forward to seeing them. They’re a hard-playing team, for sure.”

UL and SHSU could meet in Saturday’s early game if both win or both lose their openers Friday.

Cajuns coach Tony Robichaux said he and Deggs spoke Sunday and congratulated each other on winning their respective conference tournaments and the success each has had.

“The difference with them is they’re a lot better team than they were the team we saw in February,” Robichaux said. “So we’ll have to be prepared if we cross their path.

“Those freshman he has have gotten seasoned. They’ve gotten weathered throughout the year, just like we have, so they’re gonna be a lot better baseball team now.”

Ex-UL assistant coach Matt Deggs is bringing Sam Houston

Ex-UL assistant coach Matt Deggs is bringing Sam Houston State to the NCAA Lafayette Regional. (Photo: Advertiser file photo)


He has his season-long batting average up to .293.

He hit 5-for-16 (.313) with six RBI and six runs scored during over four games during last weekend’s Sun Belt Conference Tournament, and was hitting strong for a handful of games prior to that.

And he was named Most Outstanding Player of the conference tourney, which ended with UL beating Georgia Southern 5-0 Sunday.

So just what has Cajuns catcher Nick Thurman’s bat so hot lately?

“I’m probably just seeing the ball a little bit better than I was … about halfway through the season, you know?” Thurman said.

The senior said it’s been all about “minor adjustments.”

Let us count the ways.

“Slowing the game down,” Thurman said. “Keeping the game simple.

“Staying inside the ball. … Seeing it deep. Letting it develop late. Not trying to jump. Not trying to swing at the hand. Just kind of taking at-bats really slow.”

Robichaux suggested the key to Thurman’s success lately is not being weak-minded, even after having caught every inning of every game this season because both of UL’s backup catchers have been injured all year long.

“There’s no reason you can’t be the Most Valuable Player,” Robichaux said, “unless you pull and reach into the sky and pull out that alibi of, ‘My legs are tired and I can’t hit.’

“The one thing I’m proud of him on is that he understands that. He doesn’t reach for that alibi. Because he could. He could reach for it easy, and there’s a lot of people that are probably sorry for him. But he doesn’t feel sorry for himself.”


The Cajuns managed to douse Robichaux with a bucket of ice water after they clinched a share of the regular-season Sun Belt championship earlier this month.

They tried to get him again after winning the Sun Belt tourney title Sunday in San Marcos, Texas, but the wise ol’ coach danced away.

The first time, that is.

“I dodged the first one, but they got me on the second one,” he said. “They set me up. Yeah, they did.

“You should never open your mouth. I just told them after I dodged it, ‘This is 30 years (of coaching experience).’ And then five minutes later they set me up.

“But I’ll get (pitcher Logan) Stoelke back,” Robichaux added. “Stoelke was good. … He held me in place, and they got me.”

Zaunbrecher, for one, was glad they did.

“He escaped the water,” the Cajun pitcher said. “I guess 30 years’ of experience, you kind of see it coming. But we got him with the Gatorade, so that was good.”