After Friday’s game, the second game of the set will be at 2 p.m. today and the finale will be 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Lyons, who leads NSU (22-19, 10-8 SLC) with a .320 batting average in conference play, and the Demons are tied with Central Arkansas (22-16, 10-8) for fourth place with Sam Houston State, Lamar and McNeese State. All five teams are two games behind Southeastern Louisiana, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Nicholls, which are in a three-way tie for first place.
Northwestern State is on a five-game skid after it was swept in its last league series against Corpus Christi, and then dropped a mid-week set against No. 24 Arkansas. Central Arkansas has five victories in its last six games, but its loss was Wednesday to Arkansas-Little Rock.
“They are coming off of the best year in school history, and had a tremendous one,” said Demon head coach Lane Burroughs.
UCA set a school record with 42 wins in a season, and fell one win away from advancing to a Super Regional.
They lost to eventual College World Series participant, Mississippi State.
“Allen (Gum, Bears head coach) does a tremendous job, and I have a ton of respect for him,” he said. “They started off slow, but now they are playing well. They swept McNeese State last time out.
“It’s the home stretch, and this is where the pretenders and contenders start separating themselves,” he said. “We have to find a way to put last weekend behind us and move forward.”
Northwestern State will continue with the same pitching rotations it has used for the last three series.
Josh Oller (2-1, 2.91) will take the hill today, and Austin Tanner (1-1, 2.45) is expected to take the mound on Sunday.
Bret Underwood, who missed the last five games due to injury, leads the Demons with a .307 batting average, and Caleb Dugas (.299), Chase Daughdrill (.298), Cort Brinson (.296), and Nathan Lyons (.295) follow him.
Daughdrill is the team’s leader in runs batted in with 32, and Dugas leads with 30 runs scored.
The Bears are expected to toss Chris Caudle (1-0, 2.51) on Saturday and Connor Gilmore (4-1, 3.16) on Sunday.
Doug Votoato is the Bears’ leading hitter (.354), and Chris Townsend has knocked in the most runs (30).
“They are playing very good baseball right now. UCA is going to play hard, and do the little things right,” said Burroughs. “They got some guys back on the mound, and other pieces back.”
The Demons will host in-state rival Louisiana Tech April 29 at 6:30 p.m.