Southeast Missouri State baseball team opens home series vs. N. Dakota

Friday, March 11, 2011

Southeast enters the three-game weekend series with a 7-5 record

The Southeast Missouri State baseball team will welcome a familiar face to town for the second straight season.

Former Southeast assistant Jeff Dodson, the third-year coach at the University of North Dakota, brings his Fighting Sioux to Capaha Field for a three-game series beginning at 3 p.m. today.

There will be a 2 p.m. contest Saturday and a 1 p.m. matchup Sunday.

"It's always good to come back home," Dodson said. "I've got a lot of friends there and it's always a great atmosphere for baseball."

Dodson spent five seasons under Southeast coach Mark Hogan, serving as pitching coach and recruiting coordinator, before being hired to lead UND into Division I.

"I learned a lot while I was there about Division I baseball," Dodson said. "I was fortunate enough to get a head coaching job after leaving there. Coach Hogan and I still talk often. He's been a big influence in my life."

The Fighting Sioux went 19-35 last year, including 13-15 in the fledgling Great West Conference. That marked a five-win improvement from their first Division I season when they had a 14-29 record.

UND is 0-7 this year and has been outscored 73-22 against a brutal schedule. Its first 20 games are on the road.

The Fighting Sioux started the season with three losses at nationally ranked Wichita State, followed by three losses at Missouri State and a defeat at Kansas.

UND has suffered its share of routs -- 15-0 to Wichita State and 13-0 to Missouri State top the list -- but also has been very competitive in several games, including 9-8 against Missouri State and 5-3 against Kansas on Wednesday.

The Fighting Sioux are batting just .196 -- led by senior Andy Sadler at .431 -- and have a 10.64 ERA.

"You look at our numbers ... it's deceiving," Dodson said. "We've played such a tough schedule. We actually have a good club.

"Our kids have to understand, if we do get beat, we have to learn from it."

Making the transition to Division I never is easy, especially in such a cold-weather state that necessitates playing a road-heavy schedule every year.

"I feel like we're making great progress," Dodson said.

Things don't figure to get much easier for UND against Southeast, one of the Ohio Valley Conference's preseason favorites that is 7-5 against a solid schedule.

The Redhawks, swept last weekend in a three-game series at Troy, are hitting .275 and carry a sparkling 2.67 ERA.

Junior second baseman Taylor Heon leads Southeast with a .361 batting average, followed by senior left fielder Michael Adamson at .360. Adamson has a team-high 10 RBIs.

Seniors Jordan Underwood and Jon Dicus, the Redhawks' top starters so far, are scheduled to work the first two games of the series. No starter has been announced for Sunday.

Underwood, a left-hander, is 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA. Dicus is 1-0 with a 1.15 ERA.

"They've got an upperclassmen club, a real nice club," Dodson said. "Some of the kids are still there that I recruited, so I'm looking forward to seeing them."

Southeast took two of three from UND last year, winning the opener 15-4, dropping the second game 6-5 and capturing the finale 14-4.

"I'm excited about playing them again," Dodson said. "The fans there are always great and they get tremendous crowds."

Dodson's staff features another member with local ties. Third-year assistant J.C. Field is a former Southeast volunteer assistant.

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