California native Lawson adjusts to life in the Midwest

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Except for not being able to hit the beach, Brent Lawson's freshman season at Southeast Missouri State University has been going just fine.

Lawson, a California native, enters today's 3 p.m. non-conference game against visiting Southern Illinois with a team-leading .362 average, although in limited at-bats. Southeast (17-18) will look to avenge a 6-5 loss to SIU (11-22-1) on March 23 in Carbondale.

"The biggest adjustment is not being able to go to the beach," said a smiling Lawson of his first year living in Cape Girardeau. "That's probably the biggest drawback, but other than that it's been fine."

Lawson, who has played all three outfield positions for the Indians but primarily settles in right or left, saw very little action early in the season. But he seemed to produce every time he was called upon and lately has been a fixture in the lineup, although his 58 at-bats are still far below the squad's other regulars. Lawson has played in 21 of Southeast's 35 games, with 16 starts.

"Brent is a very good athlete and he's really been playing well for us," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "It's been hard to keep him out of the lineup."

Lawson, who has three doubles, one home run and 11 runs batted in while also playing solid defensively with just one error, is not totally surprised by the strong start to his college career.

"I've been working hard and I've always believed that if you take things one day at a time, good things happen," he said. "The coaches told me I'd have an opportunity to fight for a position. It didn't happen for me early, but I kept fighting and it's a good feeling to be getting this opportunity. I just try to play hard and help the team."

Looking to play, not sitLawson, a 6-foot, 180-pounder, is from the Southern California beach community of Laguna Niguel. He said he was offered scholarships to Washington State and San Diego but thought he might have a better chance to play right away at Southeast.

"I could have gone to a bigger program and maybe sat on the bench, but I wanted to get in and play right away," he said.

Lawson said a summer coach of his, who is a professional scout, alerted Southeast's coaching staff about Lawson -- and the Indians decided to take him sight unseen.

"They'd never seen me play but they took his word on it," Lawson said. "He'd recommended other guys here in the past, like Clemente Bonilla."

So far the situation has worked out well for everyone involved -- even if Lawson does often miss his beloved beach.

"I'm getting used to that, and I got used to the cold, which really wasn't a big thing," he said, laughing. "I lived in California all my life and I wanted to see some different things, experience a different part of the country. It's been fun so far."

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