Redhawks shift gears from OVC to Big 12

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Southeast will face Kansas and Missouri in the Best of the Midwest Tournament.

Southeast Missouri State has had more success this season against the Big 12 Conference than in its own Ohio Valley Conference.

The Redhawks will try to continue that trend this week when they play two Big 12 teams as part of the Best of the Midwest Tournament in Kansas City, Kan.

Southeast (15-22) will take on Kansas (29-16) at 3 p.m. today and Missouri (18-20) at noon Wednesday.

There will be three other games in the event hosted by the Kansas City Sports Commission and the Kansas City T-Bones independent professional baseball team.

Missouri plays Creighton at 7 p.m. today, while Wednesday Kansas plays Creighton at 3 p.m. and Kansas State faces Missouri State at 7 p.m.

All the contests will be played at the Community America Ball Park, which is the home of the T-Bones.

"It sounds like it should be a very good event," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "I haven't seen the ballpark, but I've heard it's really nice.

"There will be some excellent teams there and some very good competition. We've got our work cut out for us."

The Redhawks are 6-9 in OVC play, which has them ninth in the 10-team league. Only the top six finishers qualify for the conference's postseason tournament.

But Southeast already owns two wins over Missouri this season, 3-2 on March 29 in Cape Girardeau and 9-5 on April 12 in Columbia.

The Tigers were ranked 10th nationally entering the season, but they have struggled over the past several weeks, losing 11 of their last 13 games. Missouri is seventh in the 10-team Big 12 at 7-11.

"They'll be a dangerous team," Hogan said.

Today's opponent, Kansas, is tied for fourth in the Big 12 at 9-9, and the Jayhawks have won five of their last six games.

"They're evidently a really good team," Hogan said. "Both these games will be very tough for us."

Kansas has a .291 batting average and a 4.55 earned-run average.

Leading hitters for the Jayhawks are sophomore John Allmon (.353), senior Jared Schweitzer (.351) and senior Gus Milner (.347). Milner has seven home runs and 47 runs batted in, while sophomore Erik Morrison (.285) has 10 homers and 35 RBIs.

Senior right-hander Don Czyz (5-0, 15 saves, 1.21 ERA) is one of the nation's top closers. He leads the Big 12 in saves and ERA.

Missouri is batting .280 and has a 3.68 ERA.

Top hitters for the Tigers are sophomores Evan Frey (.385) and Brock Bond (.347), while sophomore Jacob Priday (.321) from Sikeston High School leads in homers with five and RBIs with 34.

Southeast has a .254 batting average -- last in the OVC -- and a 5.05 ERA.

Senior Levi Olson (.367) continues to lead the Redhawks in hitting, but his average dropped 43 points after a rough weekend series against Austin Peay.

Also above .300 for Southeast are senior Andy Johnson (.341), freshman Aaron Rave (.325) and junior Omar Padilla (.309).

Senior left-hander Derek Herbig (2-2, 5.45) will start today against Kansas, after he was replaced in the conference rotation over the weekend. Hogan said Wednesday's starter against Missouri has not yet been determined.

"After we play Kansas, we'll see what we have left for Wednesday's game," Hogan said.

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