SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – Four years ago, Austin McNicholas signed with the University of Texas as a three-time High School All-American.

Now, he’s the glue that holds the nation’s third ranked NAIA team together.

“I didn’t think I would be here for four (years). Every player that has come in has changed my life,” McNicholas said on what kept him at the NAIA level. “I realized my development here might be better than going to a bigger school or transferring.”

The development has been evident. With a career .371 batting average and 145 runs batted in during his tenure with the Pilots.

“He’s got a routine he sticks to everyday and there’s no messing that routine up,” according to Head Coach Brad Neffendorf. “That’s why he’s been able to execute the way he does, because he’s so consistent in everything he does.”

McNicholas is enjoying the best season of his career, leading the Pilots in hits, doubles, and batting average after suffering incredible loss over the offseason.

“Everyday, even during practice I think about my Dad who would wake up at 3 AM every single day, work until 12 and come home and practice with me…Right before the season he passed away, but I realized this is what he wanted.”

After a World Series appearence in 2021, the LSUS is set to make a run at the program’s first national championship. With a program record 47 regular season wins under their belts, the Pilots are set to anchor themselves to their leader for the postseason.

“We do have 3 losses and I think that’s what we do focus on. It’s not just the winning part but I think because we’re winning is because we lost. Especially against some of the teams that we lost to,” says McNicholas. “We’re able to learn what our defects were and what we need to work on.

“I’ve said the program comes with expectations, and sure there’s people out there that see 47-3 and say ‘they’re gonna make the World Series, they’re gonna win the conference tournament, the regional!'” Well, you never know, you may not,” according Neffendorf. “All we can do is continue to put ourselves in position and if we do that we’ll have a chance to keep advancing on.”

The Pilots open their postseason schedule on Friday in the Red River Athletic Conference Tournament against Houston-Victoria.