Assistant Cafalone approaches his final games with the Southeast Missouri State baseball program

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Southeast Missouri State baseball team has thrived offensively under the tutelage of assistant Chris Cafalone, who serves as the Redhawks' hitting coach.

Southeast coach Mark Hogan hopes Southeast's attack can continue to prosper in the future although he knows it will face a big challenge without Cafalone on the staff.

Cafalone's sixth season at Southeast will be his final one. He is leaving the program after this year because he is getting married and moving to Arizona, where fiancee lives and where he will work at a baseball academy.

"He's like a brother to me. I totally respect everything he's done," Hogan said. "He's really served the program and the university well."

Cafalone, who is Southeast's third-base coach during games along with other responsibilities, has been on board for some of the top offensive seasons in program history.

The Redhawks ranked eighth nationally in home runs, eighth in slugging percentage and eighth in batting average in 2011.

The 2010 Redhawks set school records for runs (452), hits (683), doubles (134), RBIs (429) and total bases (974) while ranking seventh nationally in batting average (.346).

"I like to think I did some good things while I was here, and hopefully we've still got a lot of baseball left," Cafalone said while looking ahead to this week's Ohio Valley Conference tournament in Jackson, Tenn. "We've had some great teams. ... I love what coach Hogan was able to do for me."

Cafalone said it's tough to leave the Redhawks, but he is looking forward to beginning a new chapter in life with fiancee Angela Herrera.

Cafalone and Herrera, a couple for three years who have known each other since high school, have not been able to spend much time together because of their careers. She is a teacher in Arizona.

"It is kind of bittersweet. I love the guys. I'm going to miss every player I've coached," Cafalone said. "But I'm doing it [leaving] for all the right reasons."

Hogan, whose other full-time assistant is pitching coach Steve Bieser, knows whoever he hires to replace Cafalone will have big shoes to fill.

"You look at the stats ... they speak for themselves. And at the same time, he was recruiting these guys," Hogan said. "Anything he did, he did well. We're going to miss him, but I'm very happy for him and Angela."

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