Wide-open Southeastern outfield poised for breakout season

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HAMMOND, La. – The last time the outfield competition was this wide-open for the Southeastern Louisiana baseball program, Lion faithful were introduced to new heroes by the names of Kyle Cedotal, Andrew Godbold and Jacob Seward.

Helping lead Southeastern to the NCAA postseason for the first time in two decades that trio left an indelible mark on the Lion record book.

The 2019 season is shaping up as another breakout year for coach Matt Riser’s ballclub.

Struggling to make the early adjustment to Division I baseball, both Nathan Pilutti and Bryce Steckler still proved key during the season’s final month in 2018. The seniors now have a season in the program under their belt and are poised to anchor a crowded outfield mix.

“I’m expecting a couple of big seasons from Steckler and Pilutti, guys who weren’t up to par last season,” Riser said. “I thought they had some big moments for us and are now primed for a good senior year.”

The multitalented Trey Shaffer, a former Gatorade Player of the Year as a Mississippi high school star, promises to be a key cog in the Lion machine – even if the sophomore’s role will be fluid throughout the season.

“We’re going to figure out the two-way deal with Shaffer,” Riser said. “His bat has been pretty consistent for us all spring. With him being a starting pitcher, we’ll have to be creative with the designated hitter spot and playing him in the outfield. We want to save his arm for the mound.”

One of the Lions’ key relievers a season ago, Shaffer’s pitching duties opens a spot for a good chunk of playing time. Vying to claim that spot are a pair of players in their second season with the program, and one is drawing a favorable comparison to one of the most dynamic players in school history.

“Nick Ray has had a really nice fall and spring,” Riser said. “He took a redshirt last season and has learned our style of play. He’s big and physical, can hit the ball out of the yard and steal bags as well – kind of a Ryan Byers-type player. He’s also really good defensively.”

Working his way into the mix is former Livingston Parish multisport MVP Preston Faulkner. Recruited as a corner infielder with the ability to catch, the versatile player swings a power bat with a penchant for reaching base.

“The one we’ve added recently, Preston Faulkner is making the transition,” Riser said. “He’s looked good in left field, making the proper adjustments. He’s a big bat we’re trying to find a spot in the lineup.”

A pair of freshman with similar profiles as Shaffer are making the case for playing time. Both Brant Husser and Zane Zeppuhar possess a left-handed bat and southpaw pitchability

“Both will have a role,” Riser said. “They’ve swung the bat well this spring and done a good job of figuring out their timing. They will be left-handed options for us off the bench, having more of an opportunity offensively than on the mound to start out their careers.”

Also in the mix for Southeastern are redshirt freshman Darius Jones and rehabbing two-way player Trey Jolly.

SEASON TICKETS
A 27-game home slate at Pat Kenelly Diamond at Alumni Field in 2019 includes home series against Southland regular-season champion Sam Houston State and conference tournament champ Northwestern State. Key nonconference games include home matchups with South Alabama, Tulane and UL Lafayette.

Season ticket packages are still available, including general admission seats ($103) and a family plan that includes two adult and two youth (ages 3-12) general admission tickets ($206).

For more information, or to purchase season tickets, fans can contact the Southeastern Athletic Ticket Office at (985) 549-5466. Season ticket packages are also available for purchase online at www.LionSports.net/Tickets.

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 [email protected] or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.

CLEAR BAG POLICY
Southeastern Athletics has instituted a clear bag policy for all ticketed events, effective with the start of the 2018 fall semester. The policy mirrors safety precautions taken upon entrance to professional and collegiate sporting venues throughout the country. For more information on the clear bag policy, visit www.LionSports.net/Clear.

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.

SOUTHEASTERN OUTFIELDERS
# Player Pos B/T Ht Wt Cl. Hometown Last School
4 Nathan Pilutti OF R/R 5-9 191 Sr. Destrehan, La. Mississippi Delta CC
8 Bryce Steckler OF R/R 6-0 193 Sr. Redmond, Wash. Everett CC
15 Trey Shaffer OF/P L/L 6-1 180 So. Biloxi, Miss. Biloxi HS
22 Preston Faulkner UT R/R 6-1 230 So. Denham Springs, La. Live Oak HS
31 Brant Husser OF/P L/L 5-11 166 Fr. Central, La. Central HS
32 Nick Ray OF R/R 6-2 200 R-Fr. Jefferson, La. Jesuit HS
38 Zane Zeppuhar OF/P L/L 5-10 175 Fr. Gonzales, La. St. Amant HS
40 Trey Jolly OF/P R/R 6-2 192 R-Sr. New Albany, Miss. Mississippi State
42 Darius Jones OF R/L 5-10 180 R-Fr. Baton Rouge, La. Parkview Baptist

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