Summing up Redhawks' baseball season: Disappointing

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The 2005 Southeast Missouri State baseball season is now in the books and it was an extremely disappointing one -- there's simply no other way to put it.

Although the Redhawks teased their fans a bit down the stretch by winning eight of their final nine Ohio Valley Conference games, they could not continue that momentum into the OVC tournament and were eliminated in two contests.

The result was a 24-32 overall record that ties the 1997 team for the fewest victories in coach Mark Hogan's 11 seasons at Southeast. This also marked just Hogan's second losing record with the Redhawks, the other one being that 24-33-1 mark in 1997.

After finishing last season strong by reaching the championship game of the OVC tournament -- although their final record was only 29-28 -- and returning many of their key players, expectations for Southeast baseball were extremely high both inside and outside the program.

But the Redhawks struggled early against their usual tough schedule and, after losing their season opener, were never able to even get back to the .500 mark the rest of the year. Some key injuries, particularly to the pitching staff, did not help the cause.

For a while it looked like Southeast wasn't even going to qualify for the OVC Tournament -- six of the league's 10 squads get in --but that late surge allowed the Redhawks to avoid missing the event for the first time under Hogan.

After winning at least 31 games for four straight seasons from 2000 through 2003 -- going 139-77 and never finishing less than 11 games above .500 during that time -- the Redhawks have a combined 53-60 record over the past two years and have not really been a factor in the OVC race, needing late surges to tie for fourth place both seasons.

It's certainly not time to panic if you're an ardent Redhawks baseball supporter. After all, Hogan entered this season with a 10-year Southeast record of 308-233 -- including two NCAA tournament appearances -- so that's proof enough of his ability to direct a winning program.

That being said, however, it's important for the Redhawks to begin getting back on track next season. And that doesn't figure to be easy.

Although several of them underachieved this season, Southeast loses 10 seniors, including its top four hitters, so Hogan and his assistants definitely have a major retooling job ahead of them if the Redhawks are going to rediscover the kind of consistent success the program had going just a few years ago.

* Although he won't be eligible to play next season, the Southeast men's basketball team recently added an intriguing transfer in 6-foot-9, 250-pound Michael Rembert from Bradley.

Rembert's statistics in two seasons with the Braves certainly don't paint him as a potential impact player with the Redhawks, but that might not necessarily be the case.

After a solid freshman campaign that included six starts, Rembert was originally ticketed for major playing time last season, but the emergence of 7-foot freshman center Patrick O'Bryant at center and the presence of standout power forward Marcellus Sommerville nixed those plans.

But Rembert was a touted high school recruit in Chicago and his two-year stats at Bradley -- he averaged 2.5 points and 2.2 rebounds per game -- might not be a true indicator of what kind of success he can have in the OVC, where fairly skilled big men are at a premium.

Under NCAA transfer rules, Rembert will have to sit out next season, although he will be able to practice with the team. He will have two seasons of eligibility, beginning in 2006-2007 -- and it should be interesting once the Redhawks actually get him on the court for games.

* The Sports Network, which covers NCAA Division I-AA football more and better than any other media outlet, recently issued an early appraisal of what it believes are the nation's toughest nonconference schedules for the 2005 season -- which, by the way, will be here before we know it.

Southeast ranked 14th on the list -- and TSN didn't appear to hold out much hope that the Redhawks would fare better than last year's 0-3 non-conference start.

The Redhawks host Division I-AA power Southern Illinois, visit Division I-A Kent State and visit solid I-AA squad Southwest Missouri State to begin the campaign. Wrote TSN: "Two Gateway [Conference] opponents and a I-A trip could lead to another slow start for the Redhawks."

TSN rated Appalachian State as having the toughest nonleague schedule, which includes games at I-A teams LSU and Kansas.

Eastern Kentucky is regarded by TSN as having the most difficult nonconference slate among Ohio Valley Conference squads, with games against two strong I-AA programs in Appalachian State and Western Kentucky, along with a date at I-A North Carolina State.

We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out.

* What figures to be yet another season filled with success for the Plaza Tire Capahas -- the area's highest-level summer baseball team that features primarily college players -- begins Friday night.

The Capahas open their 39th campaign under seemingly ageless manager Jess Bolen with an 8 p.m. home game against Valmeyer, Ill.

Last season, the Capahas went 30-12 and made their 23rd consecutive appearance in the prestigious National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan. Bolen's career record with the squad is an astounding 1,229-314.

The Capahas have a particularly entertaining home schedule this year, including series against the Wichita (Kan.) Broncs and St. Joseph (Mo.) Saints. Those are annually two of the nation's premier amateur squads.

* It's hard to feel too bad when a person reached age 89 and appeared to have absolutely lived life to the fullest, but I was still saddened by the recent news that Mark Seyer had passed away.

Mark was a fixture in the local baseball community for most of those 89 years, from the days when he formed the old Cape Tigers team to his many, many summers spent umpiring area games, including the Capahas and American Legion.

A member of the Southeast Missouri Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame, Mark continued to umpire even as he approached 80, his lean body seemingly impervious to the extreme heat and humidity that would take down men half his age.

I knew Mark for most of my 20-plus years in Cape Girardeau and considered him a valued friend. He was always ready to talk baseball, and I don't think I ever remember seeing him without a smile on his face.

Mark was simply that kind of person, and he will be sorely missed.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: