Redhawks baseball faces SIU on road

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Southeast will try to end its mid-week woes against the Salukis.

The Southeast Missouri State baseball team will try to remain hot today when the Redhawks step out of Ohio Valley Conference play.

Southeast pays a visit to regional rival Southern Illinois University, with the first pitch in Carbondale, Ill., set for 3 p.m.

The squads also will play April 14 in Cape Girardeau to wrap up their annual home-and-home series.

"It's always a good rivalry with SIU," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "A lot of the boys know each other and everybody plays hard."

Southeast and SIU have split their two meetings each of the past four years. The Salukis lead the all-time series 38-23-1.

The Redhawks, 18-10 overall and 8-1 in the OVC, are riding high after taking two of three over the weekend from defending OVC regular-season champion Jacksonville State.

That snapped JSU's OVC record of 14 consecutive series wins in conference play dating back to the 2007 season.

"It was a big weekend for us," Hogan said.

Southeast, which has won eight of its past 10 games, is in second place in the nine-team OVC, trailing 7-0 Eastern Illinois by percentage points.

While the Redhawks have been strong in league play so far, they have struggled recently during mid-week, nonconference games when they have to dig deep into their pitching staff.

The Redhawks have lost their last three mid-week contests by a combined score of 41-6, including last week's 12-1 blistering at Arkansas State.

"We've had some problems in mid-week," Hogan said. "We have to stop it."

While the Redhawks have established a stable starting pitching rotation for league play, they are still searching for quality depth on the mound that could be crucial for next month's OVC tournament.

"I'm looking for that fourth, fifth guy [to start]," Hogan said. "You have to have them in the tournament."

Southeast has used a variety of different starters for its mid-week games. Sophomore Corey Harness will make his first start of the season today.

Harness, who does not have a decision, has worked six innings spanning four appearances. Although his ERA is 9.00, he threw a perfect inning Saturday against Jacksonville State.

Harness also saw limited action last year as a redshirt freshman, going 0-2 with a 12.27 ERA in just 7 1/3 innings, although he made two starts.

"We'll see how he does in his first start this year," said Hogan, who plans to use several hurlers today as the Redhawks tune up for Friday's doubleheader at Murray State that begins their fourth OVC series of the season.

SIU, 12-18 overall and 3-5 in the Missouri Valley Conference, has lost five of its last six games.

Panthers hit rankings

OVC leader Eastern Illinois brought some positive publicity to the conference Monday as the Panthers broke into Collegiate Baseball's top 30 national poll, ranking 27th.

The Panthers, 21-5 overall, are riding an 11-game winning streak and have won 15 of their last 16 games. They own a victory over 12th-ranked Oklahoma.

"They're playing great and I think it's great for the conference that they're ranked," Hogan said.

Eastern Illinois is No. 38 in the most recent RPI compiled by the website Boyd's World. Southeast ranks 76th in the RPI among 302 Division I baseball teams.

"It's good for us to be that high in the RPI," Hogan said.

Football spring drills

Southeast will begin preparations for the 2009 football season Wednesday when the Redhawks hold their first spring practice session.

The NCAA allows college football teams 15 spring practices, including a spring game, which for the Redhawks will be May 2.

Southeast will work out at 6 a.m. most Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with scrimmages set for April 18 at about 11 a.m. and April 25 at about noon. The time for the spring game is still to be determined.

The Redhawks kick off the season Sept. 5 at home against Quincy, followed by a Sept. 12 game at Division I-A power Cincinnati. Southeast's first OVC contest is Sept. 19 at home against Eastern Illinois.

Southeast went 4-8 overall and 2-6 in the OVC during the 2008 season, the Redhawks' third under coach Tony Samuel.

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