Redhawks will make Capaha Field debut on Saturday

Friday, February 24, 2006

Jackson State will visit for a three-game series.

Southeast Missouri State has a fan-friendly baseball schedule this year, with 32 of its 56 games at home.

The Redhawks, who have played their first four contests on the road, begin to reap the rewards of that schedule Saturday.

Southeast (1-3) opens its home season with a 1 p.m. doubleheader against Jackson State (4-3) at Capaha Field. The squads will also play a single game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

This weekend begins a stretch where the Redhawks play 10 of their next 11 games at home, all over a 16-day period.

"It's the beginning of an attractive home schedule for the whole year," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "With so many new players, it might take our fans time to figure out who everybody is. We're still doing that as coaches."

The Redhawks are coming off last weekend's three-game series at McNeese State in Lake Charles, La.

Southeast won the opener 8-1, then lost 7-6 and 10-0. The Redhawks began the season on Feb. 15 with a 4-3 defeat at Arkansas State.

"We've dropped two games that really could have gone either way," Hogan said. "We're 1-3, but we could be 3-1. I'm not discouraged. We've got a young team and we're still trying to find ourselves.

Southeast, fielding a host of new position regulars, has struggled offensively so far with a .209 batting average.

Two freshmen starters, first baseman Aaron Rave and center fielder Daniel Schuh, are Southeast's top hitters to date at .429 (6 of 14) and .357 (5 of 14), respectively. Rave has seven of the Redhawks' 15 RBIs.

Redhawks pitchers have a 5.73 earned-run average, led by senior left-hander Derek Herbig (1-0, 1.80), who has Southeast's lone victory.

"This early, batting averages and ERAs don't really mean a whole lot because they change so fast until you've really played some games," Hogan said. "But we know that, on paper, offense is one of our question marks because of all our new players who haven't experienced Division I baseball before.

"We're still trying to find the right combinations around the field. We'll probably be doing that for a while. A lot of people will get opportunities, and they need to make the most of those."

Hogan plans to start senior right-hander Anthony Maupin (0-0, 2.70 ERA) in Saturday's opener, with Herbig going in the second game. Both will be seven-inning contests.

The starter for Sunday's nine-inning game is still to be determined, although Hogan said senior right-hander Jamie McAlister (0-2, 12.60) will probably get the nod.

"We need to get Jamie going," Hogan said.

Jackson State should bring an exciting team to Cape Girardeau. The Tigers led the nation in runs scored last season, averaging 10.7 per game during a 24-21-1 campaign.

The Tigers were second nationally in batting average (.347) and third in stolen bases (3.62 per game, on 169 thefts in 199 attempts). But their pitchers had a bloated 8.05 ERA.

Senior outfielder Anton Shinhoster is the Tigers' top returning player, having hit .382 with 19 stolen bases in 21 attempts last year.

So far this year, the Tigers are 4-3. No individual statistics were available.

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