Demon baseball is taking on the 2022 season


Gary Hardamon

Last season’s 27-26 overall record included a full weekend sweep versus Nicholls State, a win against Louisiana State University and a plethora of double headers that went on for what seemed like a couple weeks.

From the smell of the humid 70 degrees to the windy chills inside Brown-Stroud Field at Northwestern State University of Louisiana, the spring atmosphere is set to make an appearance in the 2022 baseball season.

Last season’s 27-26 overall record included a full weekend sweep versus Nicholls State University, a win against Louisiana State University and a plethora of doubleheaders that went on for what seemed like a couple of weeks.

Northwestern State claimed victories in multiple doubleheaders, as well as walk-off wins on the same day in those doubleheaders.

Demons shortstop Daunte Stuart contributed to those statistics, smacking a laser three-run double into center field to give NSU the win against Southland Conference opponent McNeese State University back in May 2021.

Stuart’s love for baseball was not hindered by COVID-19 restrictions.

“I’m excited,” said Stuart. “I don’t think I’ve been this excited about something in my life.”

Against SFA last season, Stuart went 2-for-3 and scored twice, leaving room for more impactful appearances from the dual-threat middle infielder.

Stuart enters his second full season with the Demons after leading NSU in home runs with seven and 30 runs batted in, while also pacing the Southland Conference in 44 walks. His preseason accolades incorporate earning a spot in the preseason All-Southland Conference first team from an excellent 2021.

In the second game of the series against Nicholls, Stuart drilled a pair of home runs––his first career multi-homer game––and drove in three runs, scoring four times. Stuart’s enthusiasm for the game of baseball is what makes him a special player for the Demons and an interesting speedster to keep track of for opponents.

“I’m appreciative of the awards, but it’s more about the work out here,” Stuart said. “It makes me feel confident.”

Three other Demons also reached the preseason All-Southland Conference second team, like senior right-handed pitcher Donovan Ohnoutka, making his fifth and final season with the Demons. Ohnoutka set career highs in 16 appearances, 50 and two-thirds innings and 40 strikeouts.

To Ohnoutka’s relief, COVID-19 restrictions are not as bad as in 2020 and 2021. Northwestern State recently lifted its mask mandate, effective Feb. 15, but recommends students to be careful and wear a mask if they don’t feel comfortable not wearing one.

“It feels good to have all of that covid controversy behind you and get ready for a new season,” Ohnoutka said. “We’ve got a good squad that’s working hard and ready to go.”

There’s a sense of development in NSU baseball’s helm, thanks to head coach Bobby Barbier leading the charge by creating a family-like atmosphere from his student-athletes. Levi David is one of seven recent former Demons drafted to play in Major League Baseball, and assistant coach Spencer Goodwin hopes to keep that success rolling.

Recruits that are ready to play for NSU are coming to a family program that transcends baseball; school, personal life and family time, according to Goodwin.

“We like to make sure those parents know we’re taking care of their kids,” Goodwin said.