SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – LSUS baseball did just about everything at a high level in 2022.

It began in February with three straight wins over top-12 opponents. The Pilots defeated 12th ranked Loyola of New Orleans, 2nd ranked Central Methodist, and 7th ranked Indiana University Southeast in the span of five days.

“We struggled offensively, but pitched really well,” said Head Coach Brad Neffendorf on the two victories which came in the Cajun Collision Tournament. “We kind of knew going into the Fall with what we returned, the experience that we returned that was so successful last year, especially late, and with the athleticism that we brought in that we’d have a chance to be pretty good.”

Pretty good would be an understatement.

The Pilots finished second in the nation in runs scored with 619, held a a run deferential of +396, and featured two of the top-14 strikeout pitchers in the country, in Kevin Miranda and Bobby Vath, on their way to a school-record 23-game winning streak and a 46-3 regular season record.

That success didn’t immediately roll into the postseason. The Pilots won the Red River Athletic Conference’s regular season title with a record of 31-2, but were eliminated just two games into the conference tournament with losses to Houston-Victoria and University of the Southwest.

“Some things have to get fixed internally and there’s no doubt in my mind with the players that something clicked and got the morale changed a little bit,” said Neffendorf.

With only three regular season losses, adversity was hard to find for the Pilots, but they still overcame it in the NAIA Regional on their home field. Facing elimination in four consecutive games, LSUS overcame deficits in two of the four, including the win that sent the Pilots back to the NAIA World Series.

LSUS trailed in-state foe Loyola of New Orleans by four runs early in the contest, before Jaylin Turner launched a walk off home run in the tenth to punch the Pilots’ ticket to Lewiston for the second consecutive season.

“We were never battle tested a ton, never put in those positions, but I think when you have a team that has been successful, as long as they stick to it and they play to not lose. That was the difference there, we still kept playing to win.”

Once in Lewiston, the Pilots posted a 2-2 record with wins over Bellevue and Faulkner. Eventual national champion Southeastern handed LSUS its first loss. The Pilots would be eliminated with a 5-1 loss to national runner-up Lewis-Clark State.

The top-four finish was the fourth in program history. With it, the foundation is set for LSUS to remain a national power.

With a 120-28 record just three seasons into his college head coaching career, 24 All-Conference selections, and six players sent to the professional ranks, Head Coach Brad Neffendorf has the Pilots progressing toward something special.

“As a program, you’ve got to have a lot of support and we do here…You’ve got to have resources; we do,” said Neffendorf when asked about the secret to his success.

“I feel good about the mixture of what we’ve got coming in and what we’ve got coming back. I think it should pave the way for a good Fall and we’ve just got to keep coaching them.”

The Pilots were ranked fourth in the final NAIA Baseball Coaches’ Poll.