NSU Assistant Sports Information Director
MONROE – Describing the Northwestern State baseball team’s relationship with ULM is a matter of semantics for first-year head coach Bobby Barbier.
“Rivalries or familiarity?” Barbier asked. “We’re familiar with them. We play them every year home and home, along with some other state schools. I don’t know if it’s as much a rivalry as it is these guys play against each other growing up. They play high school ball with each other. They play travel ball with each other.”
All of those ties will come together at Warhawk field at 6 p.m. Tuesday when the Demons and Warhawks, former Southland Conference mates, tangle in the first of a two-day, home-and-home midweek series. The back end of the series is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Brown-Stroud Field.
The Demons (8-18) collected their first mid-week win of the season a week ago Tuesday, defeating Lamar at Brown-Stroud Field, before dropping two of three games in a Southland Conference weekend series against Central Arkansas.
The Warhawks (9-20) dropped three of four games in the past week, falling to Louisiana Tech in midweek action before dropping two of three at Georgia Southern in Sun Belt Conference play. Much like the players sharing a bond, so do the head coaches.
“Coach (Bruce) Peddie and I are great friends,” Barbier said. “I got to know him when he was down at UNO and got to know him there. I always see him out recruiting. It’s good to sit by him. When you’re playing your friends, you want to beat him.
“You may see a guy for five straight days in the summer, watching games for eight hours a day. You become friends or enemies, but most of the time you become friends.”
While Barbier’s and Peddie’s relationship has been years in the making, new faces have become commonplace in the Demons lineup.
As many as five freshmen have been in the starting lineup in the same game, including Friday’s 3-2 series-opening win against Central Arkansas. One of those freshmen, Austin Townsend, had a game-tying, two-run home run joining junior David Fryas the only two NSU players with more than one home run this season.
“It’s great to see them out there,” Barbier said. “We play freshmen. It’s not to get them at-bats. It’s because they give us the best chance to win. Is it nice we get them for a couple more years and get to mold them? Sure, but that doesn’t go into my decision making.”