Lions face Wesleyan in Ft. Worth
Hard-working Fletcher earns first start
SAGU's youth movement continues
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University has seven games remaining in a season that seen the team make progress while playing a roster filled with freshmen and sophomores. They have shown promise even in their expected struggles.
Today they play a doubleheader against Texas Wesleyan University that will provide more opportunities for the young squad to develop. The Lions and the host Rams will play a pair of games at venerable LaGrave Field, the home to the American Association's Fort Worth Cats minor league baseball team.
The first game is slated for a 1:30pm (CST) first pitch. (Directions to the game are posted below)
Wesleyan, 32-12 overall and 15-6 in the Red River Athletic Conference, is ranked No. 25 in the NAIA's most recent Coaches Poll. It is their first appearance in the rankings since 2009 even while winning 30+ games annually.
They have won 13 straight outings.
Second year Head Coach Jon Shockley will likely start a pair of Metroplex area freshmen in Jarrod Pisors (Dallas, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Montana Chitty (Lake Worth, Tx / Lake Worth HS).
The 6-foot-7 Pisors is one of the bright spots of the season. This will be his 12th start. In 58 innings he has struck out 40 while walking just 18. Chitty has more mound appearances (12) than anyone. He is 1-3 with a save.
Three freshmen have started 34 of 41 games this season for SAGU. That is an arduous task in a very strong hitters' conference that has four nationally ranked teams, including No. 4 Northwood University (32-8).
Shockley has also awarded the hard-working Nephtali Fletcher (Monohans, Tx / Monahans HS), a 5'7 junior outfielder, with his first career start.
"Tali has earned it," the coach said on Thursday. "He has made strides and will add speed to the outfield. He has bid his time and the team knows well about his work ethic. They see it everyday."
The Lions are 14-29 overall, including two recent forfeits due to roster issues. They were 13-16 a month ago before key injuries and inexperience began to take their toll during the conference season.
A 4-17 mark in the RRAC is below the goals set for the season, but an improvement over last year's 1-22 ledger. The Lions have averaged 2.2 wins in the Red River over the past four seasons.
SAGU has outscored last year's team, 197-158, and counts seven games as winnable in the last two innings. They can wind-up their season rather than wind down over the next week.
They will close their home schedule next weekend, April 19-20, with a three-game series on campus when Huston-Tillotson University (10-37) visits. They were 6-37 a year ago.
SAGU's likely line-up for the first game today includes: (starts and at bats)
1st Base - Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS), Fr. (38/123)
2nd Base - Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS), Jr. (12/35)
Shortstop - Garett Thomas (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), Fr. (21/73)
3rd Base - Montana Chitty (Lake Worth, Tx / Lake Worth HS), Fr. (6/12)
Leftfield - Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS), Jr. (39/136)
Centerfield - Jeremy Cross (Americus, Ga / Harker Heights HS), Fr. (4/7)
Rightfield - Tali Fletcher (Monahans, Tx / Monahans HS), Jr. (0/1)
Pitcher - Jarrod Pisors (Dallas, Tx / Red Oak HS), Fr. (11/0)
Catcher - Enrique Rodriquez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan HS), Soph. (16/50)
Hobbled Lions Update
Micah Thompson ( with 33 starts, mostly in the infield, will miss the series due to a knee injury he sustained against LSU-Shreveport last weekend. His 23 runs scored is second only to Mee's 24.
He twisted his knee while striking out, prompting him to joke about his setback: "I went down swinging."
Thompson is expected back for Tuesday's twinbill at Dallas Christian College.
Sophomore left-hander Robert Elles (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), whom the Lions were counting on as the workhorse of the pitching staff, has nursed an injury he suffered in his only start. He is now a medical redshirt.
Three other hurlers have missed significant parts of the season, including freshman Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), with physical setbacks. He is second in starts with seven. Coach Shockley hopes to have Killebrew (2-3) back next week.
Nick Sheffield, who shares Co-Captain duties with Jared Denton, recently returned to the line-up after spending nearly two months recovering from an ankle injury.
From Interstate 35W: Exit North Side Dr. west. Turn left (south) on Main St. and go to the 7th St. light. Turn left (east) and follow 7th St. into the LaGrave Field parking lot.