Hot Grambling baseball, soccer teams off to the Bluff

Grambling pitcher Kerry Boykins stands at 2-1 on the season with a 4.44 ERA and 18 strikeouts. (Photo by T. SCOTT BOATRIGHT/Lincoln Parish Journal).

Staff writer

Grambling’s eyes are on Pine Bluff-Arkansas this Easter weekend, hoping for an especially Good Friday, as the baseball and soccer teams try to continue their recent surges.

BASEBALL: The Tigers try to continue their turnaround at UAPB in a three-game series beginning today at 3. James Cooper’s G-Men have won six of eight after Tuesday’s 15-3 mauling of ULM. Most importantly, they swept their last SWAC series two weeks ago with a trio of one-run wins over Texas Southern and stand 3-3 in the conference (6-14 overall.)

Grambling is just 1-8 on the road, however. This seems an excellent chance to change that for the better. The Golden Lions are 2-14 overall, 2-3 in the SWAC, and have lost their last six, including last week’s conference series against Southern in Frisco, Texas, where the schools shifted their series to fill the gap created when COVID-19 issues benched Prairie View and sidelined Grambling.

UAPB took two of three with Texas Southern in its opening SWAC series.

The teams play at 2 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Easter Sunday in Pine Bluff.

Jahmoi Percival and Cameron Bufford trigger the Tigers’ offense.

Percival, a graduate student from St. Thomas, USVI, has a team-best .319 batting average with 16 RBI and adds 13 stolen bases in 14 tries. Bufford, a sophomore infielder from South Hollard, Ill., is second on the squad with his .301 average and tops the sluggers with six homers and 19 RBI.

SOCCER: A SWAC regular-season championship could come Grambling’s way with a win today at UAPB. Kickoff is 3 o’clock.

UAPB (4-6, 1-6) isn’t in the title mix. The Lady Tigers, under coach Craig Roberts, hired a week before the season opener, are 5-1-1 in the league and 5-2-1 overall.

Alabama State tops the league chart at 5-0-1, including a 1-1 draw with Grambling. The Hornets visit arch-rival Alabama A&M (4-2 in the SWAC) this afternoon. This weekend’s action, barring makeups, ends the regular season. Grambling needs to win and have Alabama State lose today to share the crown.

NCAA ratings leave no doubt who has the top team. Grambling is 112 in the NCAA’s rankings, just behind perennial national power Baylor (107) and SEC member Missouri (110), and just ahead of Louisville and Southland Conference power Stephen F. Austin. The next closest SWAC team: Alabama State at 162.

Lady Tigers’ striker Kailey Pena leads the SWAC with 11 goals and won her second SWAC Offensive Player of the Week award for knocking in a pair in last Sunday’s 3-0 victory at Jackson State.

The SWAC Championships are next Thursday-Sunday at Prairie View, the only team to knock off Grambling this season.

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