Four-game series with Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns opens Wednesday
After splitting a four-game season opening series, 2-2, with LA Tech in Ruston, Louisiana, the Cougars travel three hours south to Lafayette for a four-game series with the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana, Feb. 22-25.
The Louisiana series begins on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. CST, with Thursday and Friday games also schedules for 6 p.m., and the Saturday, Feb. 25 finale at 1 p.m. The games will be played at M.L. Moore Field at Russo Park in Lafayette.
BROADCAST INFO. All four games will be broadcast live on the BYU Radio App and BYU Radio 107.9 FM in the northern Utah market. Jason Shepherd will be on play-by-play. In addition, Louisiana will broadcast the Thursday and Saturday games on ESPN+ with Dan McDonald and Brennan Breaux calling the game.
SERIES HISTORY. Wednesday’s contest with Louisiana will be just the second meeting in baseball between the Cougars and the Ragin’ Cajuns. BYU defeated Louisiana, 5-4, at the Best in the West Classic, in Fresno, California on May 20, 1984. The two schools have also competed previously one time each in women’s volleyball (2002), men’s tennis (2004) and softball (2008).
SCOUTING THE RAGIN' CAJUNS. Louisiana (2-1) opened its 110th season of intercollegiate baseball last weekend with a 2-1 series win at Rice. Heath Hood, Carson Roccaforte and Mason Zambo each homered in the series against the Owls with CJ Willis going 6-for-10 in the series with six RBI. Dylan Theut and Cooper Rawls each earned wins out of the bullpen for Louisiana with Brendan Moody earning the save in his debut last Friday.
LOUISIANA PROJECTED STARTERS. Moody (0-0, 0.00 ERA) will start on Wednesday for Louisiana with right-hander Tommy Ray (0-0, 0.00 ERA) slated to start on Thursday. Senior right-hander Jake Hammond (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will take the mound on Friday with Jackson Nezuh (0-0, 15.00 ERA) scheduled to make his home debut in Saturday’s finale.
LA TECH SERIES RECAP. BYU split its opening-series at LA Tech with wins in games one and three. Jack Sterner was the winning pitcher in the 10-2 win in season opener. Cutter Clayson picked up the win in game three, 8-2. The Cougar hitters scored 26 runs in the four-game series and were led at the plate by returning All-WCC selections Ryan Sepede (.529, 2 HR, 4 RBI) and Austin Deming (.417 2 HR, 7 RBI).
COUGARS PROJECTED STARTERS. Freshman right-hander Ben Hansen (0-0) will make his first career start on Wednesday for BYU with Jack Sterner (1-0, 1.29 ERA) scheduled to start on Thursday. Bryce Robison (0-0, 2.45 ERA) will start on Friday with southpaw Cutter Clawson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) taking the hill in the finale on Saturday.
PRESEASON HONORS. BYU senior outfielder Cole Gambill, junior righthand pitcher Jack Sterner and sophomore infielder Ozzie Pratt were selected by the West Coast Conference head coaches to the 2023 All-WCC Preseason Baseball Team.
RETURNING WCC HONORESS. BYU returns a total of 20 players from a squad that advanced to the 2022 WCC baseball tournament under new head baseball coach Trent Pratt, including First-Team All-WCC third baseman Austin Deming. Five other All-WCC honorees are also back from the 2022 squad including, shortstop Brock Watkins, second baseman Ozzie Pratt and outfielder Ryan Sepede, as well as pitchers Jack Sterner and Bryce Robison. In addition, two other returning starters—centerfielder Cole Gambill and pitcher Carter Smith—were All-WCC honorees in 2021.
NEW IN 2023. In addition, 19 talented newcomers joined the BYU baseball program in the offseason, including five who returned from serving two-year missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—catcher Bryant Ball, pitcher/first baseman Cutter Clawson, pitcher Ben Hansen, as well as infielders Chad Call and Cam Decker. They are joined by transfers Safea Mauai, a DH/first baseman from the University of Hawaii, as well as former teammates at College of Southern Idaho, lefthanded pitcher Mason Olson and outfielder Tate Gambill, who was the Scenic West Athletic Conference 2022 Player of the Year.
AROUND THE HORN. Defensively BYU returns starters in six of the eight positions, including its entire infield, with Deming at third, Watkins at shortstop, Pratt at second and Jacob Wilk at first base.
BEHIND THE PLATE. Returning senior catcher Chase Peterson, who saw action in 14 games last year, and freshman catchers Bryant Ball will handle the catching duties for the Louisiana Lafayette series. Both played in the LA Tech series to open the 2023 season.
ROAMING THE OUTFIELD. The Cougars also return two starting outfielders from last year’s squad including Gambill who will move from right field to center and Sepede who moves from left to take over for Gambill in right.
OTHERS IN THE MIX. Other returning position players with game experience include designated hitter Josh Cowden who hit .252 with 18 runs scored and 13 RBI in 44 games; outfielder Dawsen Hall who scored 11 times and drove in 11 runs in 29 appearances; and infielder Alex Sardina who hit .283 with 11 RBI in 20 games. Cooper Vest, a first baseman/outfielder who played in 27 games in 2021 but sat out last season on a medical redshirt, is once again healthy.
POSITION NEWCOMERS. New faces who could see early action in 2023 include freshmen outfielder Luke Anderson as well as infielder Easton Jones.
ON THE HILL. The Cougars return two regular series starters on the mound from last year’s rotation, including game-two starter Sterner, as well as game-three starter Robison. Clawson is back from serving a mission and will be the game three starter. Freshman Ben Hansen will start game one of the Ragin’ Cajuns series.
OTHERS IN THE ROTATION. Additional returning pitchers from the 2022 staff include junior right-hander Peyton Cole and lefty Boston Mabeus, who together appeared in a combined 48 games with a 3-2 record. Returning sophomore pitchers include righties Carter Foss and Jake Porter, who made a combined 21 relief appearances as freshmen in 2022.
NEW FACES. Newcomers who could see innings on the mound early include freshmen right-handed pitchers Payton Gubler, Sam Beck and Jameson Ferraro.
NEW SKIPPER. Trent Pratt was named head coach of the BYU baseball program on June 8, 2022. Prior to his appointment, Pratt had been an integral part of the Cougar baseball staff for the previous 10 years, including four season as associate head coach. During those 10 years he served as the hitting coach, worked with the catchers and took the lead in scheduling.
Pratt served as the interim BYU head coach for the final 25 games of the 2022 season. He guided the Cougars to an overall record of 16-9 (.640) and was 10-6 (.626) in WCC games. He led BYU to a fourth-place conference finish and a spot in the 2022 WCC Tournament by winning nine of the final 10 games. Following the 2022 season, a total of 11 Cougars received postseason baseball honors from the conference, the most since 1961.
2022 WCC HONORS — RETURNING PLAYERS
• Austin Deming — All-WCC First Team, WCC Player of the Week (May 9)
• Brock Watkins — All-WCC Second Team
• Jack Sterner — All-WCC Second Team
• Ozzie Pratt — All-WCC Honorable Mention, All-WCC Freshman Team, WCC Player of the Week (April 11)
• Bryce Robison — All-WCC Honorable Mention, WCC Pitcher of the Week (April 11)
• Ryan Sepede — All-WCC Honorable Mention
• Collin Reuter — All-WCC Freshman Team
• Cole Gambill — WCC Player of the Week (April 11), WCC All-Academic Baseball Team, WCC Commissioner’s Gold Honor Roll
• Boston Mabeus — WCC All-Academic Honorable Mention, WCC Commissioner’s Bronze Honor Roll
• Carter Foss — WCC Commissioner’s Silver Honor Roll
• Alex Sardina — WCC Commissioner’s Silver Honor Roll
• Justis Reiser — WCC Commissioner’s Bronze Honor Roll
2021 ATHLETIC HONORS — RETURNING PLAYERS
• Cole Gambill — All-WCC Second Team
• Carter Smith — All-WCC Honorable Mention
BYU third baseman Austin Deming was selected by the Houston Astros in the 10th round of the 2023 MLB Draft at Lumen…