Redhawks baseball opens season Friday

Monday, February 14, 2011
Southeast left fielder Michael Adamson holds his glove in the air after diving for the out against Eastern Kentucky Saturday, April 3, 2010 at Capaha Field. (Laura Simon)

Southeast Missouri State baseball coach Mark Hogan was cautiously optimistic about last year's team that was inexperienced and faced plenty of question marks.

There is nothing cautious about Hogan's optimism for the 2011 Redhawks, who open a highly anticipated season Friday with the start of a three-game series at defending Sun Belt Conference champion Louisiana-Lafayettte.

"Last year we had so many new guys, we were really an unknown," said Hogan, whose 2010 club exceeded expectations from those outside the program by going 30-25 and finishing fourth in the nine-team Ohio Valley Conference. "We won't be a surprise this year."

That was evidenced by the Redhawks being picked second in the OVC preseason poll. Southeast narrowly missed out on the top spot and had six preseason all-conference players, more than any other squad.

"I expected us to be picked somewhere toward the top," Hogan said.

Third baseman Trenton Moses fields a high hopper before making an out Saturday, May 16, 2009, against Morehead State at Capaha Field. (KIT DOYLE)

Hogan doesn't mind the expectations. He knows it comes with having built a solid program that has qualified for the six-team OVC tournament a league-record 16 straight times -- or every year since he has been coach.

Hogan, the winningest coach in program history, has a 469-398-1 record at his alma mater. He has led Southeast to at least 30 victories eight times.

"I'm proud of what we've done," said Hogan, who directed Southeast to NCAA regional berths in 1998 and 2002.

Southeast overcame several season-ending injuries to key players early last year to have a winning season. And it could have been even better as the Redhawks lost 10 of their final 14 games.

The Redhawks lost just two players of note from a year ago, All-American catcher Jim Klocke and starting pitcher Kyle Gumieny, who won a team-high eight games.

Southeast Missouri State's Nick Harris crossed the plate after hitting a three-run homer in the fourth inning against Southern Illinois Tuesday at Capaha Field. (Fred Lynch)

Southeast returns eight position starters and 11 pitchers along with several other key performers.

"I feel good going into the season," Hogan said. "I'm real pleased with what the guys have done so far."

Southeast's preseason all-OVC selections include two returning first-team all-league picks in senior utility player Casey Jones and sophomore pitcher Shae Simmons from Scott City.

Jones, who played quite a bit of third base last year, batted .398 with 10 home runs, 15 doubles and 66 RBIs.

Simmons, the 2010 OVC freshman of the year and a freshman All-American, went 3-3 with five saves, a 3.20 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings.

Southeast head coach Mark Hogan smiles after his team sweeps Eastern Kentucky in the three game series Saturday, April 3, 2010. (Laura Simon)

Simmons, whose ERA was just over 1.00 for much of the year, made two starts late in the season. He likely will begin the year in the closer role but could become a starter for conference play.

Junior shortstop Kenton Parmley was second-team all-OVC in 2010. He hit .380 with a school-record 67 runs scored, 11 homers, 42 RBIs and 12 stolen bases.

Senior right fielder Louie Haseltine, also second-team all-OVC, hit .325 with 17 homers, 14 doubles and 56 RBIs.

Senior left fielder Michael Adamson, another second-team all-OVC pick, had a school-record 92 hits. He batted .388 with six homers, 23 doubles and 49 RBIs.

Starting pitcher Jordan Underwood rounds out the preseason all-OVC players. The senior lefthander went 6-5 with a 4.11 ERA.

Southeast's Casey Jones watches as the ball sails over the outfield wall for a homer Tuesday, April 6, 2010 as the Redhawks host the Salukis. (Laura Simon)

Southeast recorded one of the top offensive seasons in school history, setting a program record with 452 runs scored and posting an OVC-best .346 batting average that ranks second all-time at the university.

Every player that finished the season as a starter hit at least .300, including senior second baseman Tim Rupp (.344), senior first baseman Brett Russell (.323), senior center fielder Blake Slattery (.311) and junior DH/catcher Jesse Tierney (.308 in 65 at-bats). Slattery, a Central product, led Southeast in stolen bases with 13.

Junior first baseman Kody Campbell (.295) and senior first baseman/catcher Ky Burgess (.295) both saw significant starting time. Campbell, from Oran, had Southeast's top on-base average (.480) among players with at least 20 at-bats.

Jones, Rupp and Slattery took over as starters after the Redhawks suffered injuries. Adamson was battling for a job before an injury paved the way for full-time duty in left field.

"We had a lot of guys step up. They really did an incredible job," Hogan said.

Southeast second baseman Taylor Heon chases a pop fly during Friday's game at Auburn University. (WAYNE MCPHERSON ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

Several players who went down early last year with season-ending injuries are also back, giving Southeast depth it lacked in 2010.

Senior center fielder Nick Harris, junior third baseman Trenton Moses and junior second baseman Taylor Heon all began the year as starters, while junior Brennan Malham was battling with Adamson for the left field job.

Harris was a starter his first three seasons and Advance product Moses started his first two years. Heon was off to a hot start following his transfer from junior college, batting .368 in six games.

"I tip my hat to all the work they've done, all the rehab, to get back healthy like they are now," Hogan said. "We've got a roster like we haven't had for several years.

"Having those guys back is big. We were so hamstrung last year. We just didn't have many guys to make moves with. That'll change. There is a lot of competition, which should only make us better. We're six deep in the outfield and at least two deep at each spot in the infield. Early in the year we'll look at a lot of different combinations."

Southeast Missouri State's Tim Rupp(32) and teammate Greg Dambach round the bases as teammate Kenton Parmley hits a double during Saturday's home game against Valparaiso. (Laura Simon)

Southeast's pitching was up and down for the second straight year, although the Redhawks' 6.27 ERA -- second highest in school history -- was good enough to rank second in the hitting-dominated OVC.

Underwood is Southeast's top returning starter, but seniors Nick Thomas (6-3, 6.46 ERA) and lefthander Logan Mahon (2-3, 6.45) both had their share of strong performances as they were the Redhawks' other primary starters, along with the graduated Gumieny.

Adamson, in addition to his offensive prowess, was a valuable lefty out of the bullpen as he went 1-3 with two saves and a 7.20 ERA.

Senior Kirk Boeller, a Notre Dame graduate, did not earn a decision but had Southeast's third-best ERA at 4.15.

Seniors Trent Wise (2-2, 1 save, 6.65), Jacob Wente (0-1, 7.00); Corey Harness (1-3, 8.10), Jon Dicus (1-0, 9.00), and Central product Brad LaBruyere (0-1, 11.30) are the other returning pitchers.

Southeast catcher Jim Klocke congratulates Shae Simmons on striking out the last Eastern Kentucky player of Saturday's game at Capaha Field. The Redhawks defeated Eastern Kentucky 8-7. (Laura Simon)

Senior lefthander Josh Syberg, a solid contributor his first three seasons, also returns to the mound after he missed all of last year with an injury.

"Josh has looked good," Hogan said. "We've got some things to sort out with our pitching, but I like our staff."

Hogan said tentative starters on the mound for the opening series against Louisiana-Lafayettte are Underwood on Friday, Dicus on Saturday and LaBruyere on Sunday.

"Brad has looked real good," said Hogan, who figures to use plenty of other pitchers this weekend.

Outfielder Cole Bieser and infielder Derek Gibson, a reserve quarterback on the Southeast football team, are back after redshirting as freshmen.

Southeast Missouri State's Jordan Underwood fires a pitch to an Austin Peay batter Sunday at Capaha Field. (Fred Lynch)

Hogan said the speedy Bieser gives Southeast a sixth outfielder. He could push for playing time, including as a late-inning defensive replacement.

There are only seven players new to the program, six of them freshmen. Most, if not all, of the freshmen likely will redshirt due to Southeast's depth and experience.

Lefthander Ryan Prickett, a pitcher that Hogan said should be a factor, is the lone junior college transfer.

"We're looking forward to getting the season started," Hogan said. "It should be an exciting year."

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