Redhawks to start fresh face vs. Tide

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Kyle Gumieny isn't easing into his first Division I start on the mound.

Gumieny, a junior college transfer, will get the ball Friday night when Southeast Missouri State opens its season at nationally ranked Alabama in the first of a three-game series.

"It's a heck of way to start your Division I career, an SEC school at their place," Gumieny said. "But I'm ready."

Gumieny, a 6-foot-5, 195-pound right-hander, was a two-time all-region selection at Lamar Community College in his native Colorado.

Southeast coach Mark Hogan said it didn't take long for Gumieny to make an impression during fall practice, and that has continued into the preseason.

While not overpowering, Hogan said Gumieny has "got good enough stuff. He's a very competitive guy. He can move the ball around. He was a pretty clear choice who we wanted to start the opener."

Asked for a scouting report of himself, Gumieny said: "I would say I'm not going to blow anybody away. I'd like to think I'm a guy that can locate my pitches and get hitters out."

While Gumieny caused Hogan and his staff to take notice from the outset, the new hurler also made an early impression on his teammates.

Gumieny is among three players who were voted captains by the rest of the squad, with the other two being returning seniors.

"I was really surprised when I heard that," Gumieny said. "It's a good feeling."

Freshman shortstop

In an otherwise experienced everyday lineup, shortstop is the lone exception.

Hogan has entrusted that important position to freshman Kenton Parmley from nearby Goreville, Ill.

"He's just got good everyday instincts. He has a high aptitude for the game," Hogan said. "We're really excited about him."

Parmley also is excited.

"It's exciting to be a starting shortstop on the Division I level as a freshman," he said.

Parmley, an all-state shortstop in high school, said a factor in him picking Southeast was that the position appeared to be there for the taking.

Parmley's coach at Goreville was former Southeast pitcher Shawn Tripp, who Parmley said was fired up when he chose to play for the Redhawks.

"He was strongly suggesting it," Parmley said.

Sweet home Alabama

Perhaps no Southeast player is looking forward to this weekend's series more than junior center fielder Nick Harris, the lone Alabama native on the roster.

Harris is from Alabaster, Ala., which is not far from the Crimson Tide's campus in Tuscaloosa.

"It's about 45 minutes," he said. "I'll have all my family there, a lot of friends. I don't even know how many people will be there."

Harris, a starter since his freshman season, also has played third base and shortstop for the Redhawks.

This year Harris is adding another job title -- closer.

The Redhawks struggled closing out games last year -- they were the only Ohio Valley Conference team not to have a save in league play -- and Harris will start the season in that role after never having thrown a college inning.

"It's what I did in high school. I've wanted to do it since I've been here," Harris said. "If the game was on the line, I would want it in my hands. That's the way I am."

About the Tide

Alabama, ranked No. 21 by Baseball America, returns five of its top six hitters and two of its three weekend starting pitchers from last year's team that went 35-28 and qualified for the NCAA tournament.

"They'll be good," said Hogan, whose squad was 26-26 in 2008. "It should be an interesting opening series.

"We got a good [financial] guarantee and we should be able to bring some money home for our program after we pay the expenses for the trip."

Hogan said Alabama has the "best shortstop in the SEC" in Josh Rutledge, who batted .369 last season.

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