The Southeast Missouri State baseball team knew that its three-game series at Jacksonville State over the weekend would be a good measuring stick.
Facing the Ohio Valley Conference's premier program over the past four years, the Redhawks would learn a lot regarding the legitimacy of their OVC regular-season title hopes.
JSU, the preseason OVC favorite, had the conference's best cumulative record in league play (72-36) before this season since joining the league in 2004.
The Gamecocks have never finished below third in the OVC's regular season the past four years, a feat no other conference squad can boast.
JSU has one OVC regular-season title and two runner-up finishes. The Gamecocks have also reached the OVC tournament finals in all four seasons, with two titles.
Southeast flunked its weekend test as the Redhawks were dealt a rare sweep, with JSU pounding Southeast pitching for 30 runs and 37 hits.
Now the Redhawks face an uphill battle as they try to work their way back up the OVC standings, although they still have 15 conference games remaining.
The Redhawks -- a .500 club all the way around right now at 14-14 overall and 5-5 in league play -- are sixth in the 10-team OVC.
Southeast has a chance to start making up some ground this weekend when first-place Samford visits Capaha Field. The Redhawks trail the Bulldogs by three games on the loss side.
On a topic semi-related to Southeast baseball, I was surprised that Denver Stuckey was basically fired as the Oran High School athletic director and boys basketball coach.
I thought Stuckey did a pretty good job with the Eagles' hoops program, and ever since I've known him -- dating back to 2000 -- he's always seemed like a humble and classy guy.
For those who don't know, Stuckey was a standout third baseman at Southeast from 2000 through 2003. He ranks high on several of the school's single-season and career lists, including second in career runs scored, third in career hits and fifth in career doubles.
I'm sure Stuckey, a Kelly High School graduate, won't have many problems finding a new place to coach.
It wound up being one of the most exciting NCAA men's championship basketball games in recent history.
But if Memphis had hit just one more free throw down the stretch, it wouldn't have been.
The Tigers missed four of five foul shots in the late going, which left the door open for Kansas to wipe out a nine-point deficit in the final two minutes of the second half.
Kansas, which received a tying 3-pointer from Mario Chalmers with 2.1 seconds left in regulation along with other numerous late shots, then kicked down the door in overtime to win 75-68.
The former great Southeast men's hoop coach, Ron Shumate, had a saying that free throws don't win all the games, but they win all the close games.
Never was that more evident than Monday night, as Memphis made just one of five over the final 1:12 of regulation and finished 12 of 19.
On the other hand, the Jayhawks hit 14 of 15 in the contest.
You just know the Tigers will be kicking themselves for a long time over that one.
But, after so many blowouts during the late stages of the NCAA tournament, at least we finally got to watch a thriller.
And Chalmers' trey that forced overtime will no doubt go down as one of the most famous shots in college basketball history.
The annual Plaza Tire Capahas auction will be held Saturday at the American Legion Hall at 2731 Thomas Drive in Cape Girardeau.
As usual, a variety of interesting items will be auctioned off during one of the major fundraisers for the oldest amateur baseball team in the United States.
Doors open at 8:30 a.m., and the auction begins at 9:30. There is no admission charge.
No, this score is not a misprint.
The University of Missouri baseball team, ranked eighth nationally, beat No. 12 Texas 31-12 Friday night as winds reportedly gusted up to 40 miles per hour out to right field.
Sikeston, Mo., product Jacob Priday set a Big 12 Conference record by slugging four home runs. He also drove in a school-record nine RBIs.
Priday moved within one of the MU home-run record with 44 for his career. He has 220 RBIs, which is two shy of the MU career mark.
Tennessee-Martin junior guard Lester Hudson has declared himself eligible for the NBA draft.
Hudson will not sign with an agent, meaning he can return for his senior season.
Hudson, the OVC player of the year for men's basketball, was the nation's fifth-leading scorer at 25.7 points per game.
Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.