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Seven Redhawks earn all-OVC status
Standout freshman pitcher Shae Simmons led a parade of Southeast Missouri State baseball players to receive all-Ohio Valley Conference honors.
Seven Redhawks earned all-OVC accolades, the most Southeast has had in a season in eight years.
The all-OVC squads, voted on by the league's coaches and sports information directors, were announced Tuesday on the eve of the conference tournament.
Simmons, a Scott City High School graduate, was named OVC Freshman of the Year while also earning a spot on the all-OVC first team and the league's all-freshman squad.
Other Southeast first-team selections were senior catcher Jim Klocke and junior third baseman Casey Jones, who was picked as a utility player.
Making the second team were sophomore shortstop Kenton Parmley, junior right fielder Louie Haseltine, junior left fielder Michael Adamson and senior pitcher Kyle Gumieny.
Southeast tied OVC regular-season champion Tennessee Tech for the most first-team picks.
"It's great to see all those guys honored, and they're all very deserving," said Southeast coach Mark Hogan, whose squad has the OVC's best overall record and finished fourth in the nine-team league despite being picked seventh.
Simmons is the fourth player in Southeast baseball history to garner freshman of the year accolades. He is 3-2 with a 2.39 ERA and five saves in a team-high 24 appearances. He is fourth in the league in saves.
Simmons has 41 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings, limiting opponents to a .153 batting average as he has allowed just 19 hits.
"Shae is just having a fabulous freshman season," Hogan said. "He's been pretty incredible for us from the start."
Klocke is the first-team catcher for the third straight season after earning freshman of the year honors in 2007. He is hitting .371 with 21 doubles, 13 home runs and a team-leading 66 RBIs.
Jones, a junior college transfer, is the Redhawks top hitter with a .399 average. He has 10 homers, 14 doubles and 65 RBIs.
Parmley broke Southeast's single-season record in runs scored this year with 65. He is hitting .385 with 11 homers, nine doubles, 40 RBIs and 12 stolen bases to tie for the team lead. He is a quarterfinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award.
Haseltine leads Southeast with 17 homers while hitting .325 with 13 doubles and 55 RBIs.
Adamson, a junior college transfer, broke the school single-season hits record this year with 88. He leads Southeast in doubles (22) while ranking second in batting average (.389) and runs scored (62). Adamson, who also pitches, is a quarterfinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award.
Gumieny (8-1) leads the Redhawks and ranks second in the OVC with eight wins. He leads the squad in innings pitched (74).
Ready for tournament
Now the Redhawks will set their sights on the six-team, double-elimination OVC tournament in Jackson, Tenn.
The fourth-seeded Redhawks (30-23, 13-9) play fifth-seeded Eastern Illinois (17-33, 11-12) at 3 p.m. today. The winner moves on to Thursday's semifinals, while the loser faces an elimination game the same day.
"This is what you play for all season," said Hogan, whose squad has appeared in an OVC record 16 straight conference tournaments since he took over the program. "We're excited. We feel like we have about as good a shot as anybody."
Southeast and EIU will be meeting for the fourth time in a span of six days after the squads ended the regular season with a three-game series in Charleston, Ill.
EIU swept Friday's doubleheader 7-5 and 8-5 before Southeast captured Saturday's contest 10-0.
"We're pretty familiar with each other," Hogan said.
Junior left-hander Jordan Underwood will start on the mound for Southeast today. He threw five shutout innings against EIU on Saturday, allowing just three hits.
Underwood is 6-5 with a 4.23 ERA that ranks seventh in the OVC.
"We're excited about giving Jordan the ball," said Hogan, who added that Simmons will return to the closer role at least early in the tournament after making his first two collegiate starts in the past two weeks.
EIU is expected to start junior right-hander Josh Mueller (3-1, 3.94), who has the league's fifth-best ERA. He allowed one earned run in six innings against Southeast on Friday.
The Redhawks lead the OVC with a .348 batting average and rank second with a 6.17 ERA. The Panthers are last in batting (.280) and first in pitching (5.56).
Southeast has scored the second most runs in the league (438) while EIU has scored the fewest runs (259).
"Hopefully we'll swing the bats like we've shown we can do," Hogan said. "Opening up with Eastern Illinois and their pitching will be a huge test for us."
If the Redhawks advance to Thursday's semifinals, they'll face either top-seeded Tennessee Tech (29-23, 14-6) or second-seeded Jacksonville State (29-24, 15-8).
The Redhawks went a combined 4-1 against those squads this year, winning two of three from regular-season champion Tennessee Tech and taking two from Jacksonville State.
But those squads enter the tournament as the hottest teams. Defending tournament champion Tech won 14 of its last 15 OVC games while JSU captured seven of its final nine league contests.
Today's other first-round game pits third-seeded Murray State (25-26-1, 12-8-1) against sixth-seeded Eastern Kentucky (27-25, 9-12).