Redhawks still hold out hope for OVC tourney

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Redhawks have two conference series remaining to move up in the standings.

Call him crazy or call him a cock-eyed optimist, but Southeast Missouri State coach Mark Hogan still believes the Redhawks can make a late push to qualify for the Ohio Valley Conference tournament.

"It's still there for us. I'm just waiting for us to put it together," Hogan said. "I still think we've got the team to get it together and get in the tournament.

"And if we can just get there, I think we've got the team that can do some damage. We could be a dangerous team for the tournament."

The Redhawks, who have just two OVC series remaining -- a total of six games -- will try to get going at Morehead (Ky.) State this weekend. There will be a 1 p.m. doubleheader today and a noon contest Sunday.

Southeast (17-28, 8-13 OVC) is tied for seventh in the 10-team conference, while Morehead State (15-31, 6-14) is last.

Only the top six finishers qualify for the league's postseason tournament. The Redhawks are two games behind both Tennessee Tech and Austin Peay, who are deadlocked for the fifth and sixth positions.

Since Southeast finishes the regular season next weekend with a home series against Tennessee Tech -- which faces first-place Samford this weekend -- the Redhawks have a chance of squeezing into the tournament.

And that would allow the Redhawks to avoid missing the event for the first time in 12 seasons under Hogan.

"Hopefully, when we're coming back from Morehead and we've had a good series, we'll look at everything and see that the math is set up for us to get into the tournament with a good final weekend," Hogan said

Southeast has lost six of its seven conference series, the lone exception being a sweep of visiting Murray State on the first weekend in April.

Since then, the Redhawks have dropped two of three in five consecutive league series.

"We just need to put together a complete weekend, and I feel we can do it," Hogan said. "We've played pretty well overall, it's just been the one inning here or there that has gotten us."

An inconsistent offense has been the Redhawks' downfall for much of the season -- they remain last in the OVC with a .254 batting average -- but if ever the bats should have a chance to come alive, it would appear to be this weekend.

Morehead State ranks last in the conference in earned run average -- by a wide margin -- with a 7.84 mark. Only one Eagles pitcher has an ERA under 5.25.

"We've been so hot and cold hittingwise," Hogan said. "Hopefully this will be the weekend we really break out consistently with the bats.

"Our pitching and defense have been pretty good overall. If the offense can come around, I think we can be a good club."

Morehead State has lost 11 straight games, which has virtually ended its chances of making the OVC tournament.

The Eagles play in the league's most unique stadium that features an extremely short right field.

"They generally stack their lineup with left-handed hitters and routine fly balls get out of that park, with the short porch in right," Hogan said. "It can be a difficult place to play, but we've played pretty well there in the past."

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