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Fort Worth Regional Previews: Meet the McNeese Cowboys

A run through the Southland Tournament secured a NCAA berth for the Cowboys. Can they go further?

Syndication: Nashville George Walker IV / Tennessean.com

Fort Worth Regional Previews Part 1 - McNeese Cowboys

The Beavers are headed to the Forth Worth Regional for the start of the NCAA baseball, and we at Building the Dam will be taking a look at the teams the Beavers could be facing up with this weekend. First up is the 4-seed, the McNeese Cowboys.

  • Record: 32-28 (21-18 in Southland Conference)
  • RPI: 133rd
  • Team Hitting: .286 Team Batting Average (55th Overall)
  • Team Pitching: 4.65 Team ERA (91st Overall)
  • Best Hitter: Clayton Rasbeary (1.016 OPS, 83 Hits, 11 Home Runs)
  • Best Pitcher: Will Dion (2.81 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9-4 record)
  • Head Coach: Justin Hill (8th season, 232-192 all time record)
  • Last Tournament Appearance: 2019 (Eliminated 0-2 in Nashville Regional)

After a mixed regular season, it looked like McNeese was well out of the running for the NCAA Tournament, but a Cinderella run through the Southland Conference tournament landed them an automatic berth and a trip to Fort Worth. So can the Cowboys keep their momentum going all the way to Omaha?

The Cowboys have a good pair of starters in Will Dion and Jonathan Ellison, with each currently rocking a 2.81 ERA. Dion was a key part of getting the Cowboys through the Southland Tournament; he threw a one hit shutout in McNeese’s opening round win over New Orleans, and then on short rest came in to start in the championship game against Sam Houston.

He allowed three hits and one run over three innings, while striking out seven batters, before the Cowboys turned to relief. Fortunately for McNeese, they also have a pretty solid reliever in Cameron Foster. Foster has picked up a 4.83 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP over the season, and against Sam Houston he allowed two hits and no runs over his 4.2 innings to ensure that the Cowboys postseason run continued.

McNeese doesn’t have a lights out, shutdown pitcher in their rotation, but they have enough talent that they could cause a team some trouble. I think a top level team would probably tear through McNeese, but its easy to see a team that’s been as idiosyncratic as the Beavers having trouble producing runs.

Offensively, McNeese has been on fire lately. They scored 35 runs in the 4 games of the Southland Conference Tournament, and hit double digit runs three more times in the month of May. Their best hitter is outfielder Clayton Rasbeary, who got both of McNeese’s runs in the win over Sam Houston with a first inning home run.

Rasbeary, with his 11 home runs and 23 more extra base hits, is the only Cowboy with that level of power, but the team has a few more solid hitters in the lineup. Infielder Nate Fisbeck has the next best OPS on the team, with an .895, and has a patient plate approach that has been rewarding, and also has the ability to generate some power, with 8 home runs this year.

McNeese’s scoring has been fairly reliable; the team hasn’t been shut out since March. The team has been averaging around 6 runs a game, and if they find a groove can be very explosive. That said, they haven’t faced a ton of elite pitching in their conference, and did struggle when they faced SEC squads for their nonconference games.

This is still one of the weaker teams in the tournament, but they shouldn’t be underestimated; the rest of the Southland Conference did that, and now they’ll be sitting at home for the rest of the year.