Southeast Missouri State baseball team looks to end skid against Wright State

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Redhawks try to snap a four-game losing streak against Wright State

Things don't figure to get any easier for the struggling Southeast Missouri State baseball team this weekend.

Southeast plays a three-game series at defending Horizon League regular-season and tournament champion Wright State, which is the unanimous pick to repeat after earning an NCAA regional berth last year.

The Redhawks (5-8) and Raiders (4-6) will square off at 4 p.m. today, 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday in Dayton, Ohio.

"It's going to be a very challenging series for us, but we're looking forward to going there and playing them," Southeast coach Mark Hogan said. "They'll be licking their chops [after] watching our box scores from the last few games."

Southeast, which ended its season-long 10-game homestand with Tuesday's 22-11 loss to Saint Louis University, has suffered four consecutive defeats.

WSU has a three-game winning streak after losing four consecutive against a rugged schedule that has featured just one home game so far.

The Raiders own a victory over Virginia, which was ranked 14th nationally at the time, and were swept in a three-game series by seventh-ranked North Carolina.

"I know they probably haven't gotten off to the start they wanted, but they've faced some really tough competition," Hogan said.

The Raiders took two of three during last year's series at Southeast by winning 6-5 and 5-3 while losing 5-1. That was part of a 36-19 record for WSU, including a 16-7 league mark.

Rob Cooper, who is in his eighth year as WSU's coach, has led the Raiders to six straight seasons of at least 30 wins along with three NCAA regional berths. He was the Horizon League coach of the year in 2010 and 2011.

WSU returned 19 letter winners from last season, including five first-team all-league selections. The group is led by conference player of the year Jake Hibberd, newcomer of the year Corey Davis and relief pitcher of the year Michael Schum.

The Raiders are batting just .249 so far and are averaging only 3.5 runs per game. They have a 6.47 ERA and have been outscored 76-35.

Ryan Ashe (.395) and Davis (.353) are the Raiders' top hitters so far. Justin Kopale has WSU's only two home runs.

"We're going to have to do a good job this weekend, but we're capable," Hogan said.

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