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Bieser looks to win permanent job with alma mater
Steve Bieser's first game as a collegiate head coach is just a few days away. He is eagerly anticipating the occasion.
Bieser, named Southeast Missouri State's interim coach last year after Mark Hogan retired following 18 seasons, will lead the Redhawks for the first time when they open Friday at New Orleans.
"I'm very excited to be here, and I'm really excited to get going," Bieser said.
Bieser, a Southeast assistant the past two years and a former star player at the university, said things have gone smoothly since he was announced to replace Hogan -- the program's all-time winningest coach -- on July 30.
Southeast's plan is for Bieser to serve as the Redhawks' interim coach this season, then the university will conduct a national search for Hogan's replacement. Bieser will have an opportunity to be a candidate for the permanent position.
But Bieser reiterated recently that he hopes to keep the job for a long time.
"This is a place I want to be. This is my roots, right here. I want to stay put," Bieser said. "I love this university. This is where I started. I really enjoy coaching baseball. It's kind of that dream job for me."
Bieser, 45, graduated from Southeast in 1989 and has served as the team's pitching coach the last two seasons. The Ste. Genevieve High School graduate was selected in the 32nd round of the 1989 major league amateur draft by the Phillies.
Bieser played professionally from 1989 through 2001. He appeared in 60 games with the Mets and Pirates during a two-year major-league stint. He finished with a .250 batting average (20 for 80), four doubles and five RBIs.
Bieser compiled a 137-51 record in seven seasons at Vianney High School in St. Louis, where his teams won state titles in 2004 and 2006, before coming to Southeast.
"Even when I was coaching high school, this is where I eventually wanted to be," Bieser said.
New coaching staff
Bieser is not the only new face on Southeast's staff. Both full-time assistants are in their first year with the program.
Hitting coach Dillon Lawson replaces Chris Cafalone, who spent the previous six seasons as Southeast's hitting coach before leaving the program.
Pitching coach Lance Rhodes will fill the role occupied by Bieser the past two seasons.
"Our coaches have done an outstanding job," Bieser said. "I think we've put together a really good, young staff."
Lawson spent the past three seasons as an assistant at Morehead State, a rival of Southeast's in the Ohio Valley Conference. He also was an assistant at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., from 2007 through 2009.
Lawson was a four-year starter at first base and catcher for Transylvania (Ky.) University before graduating in 2007.
Rhodes, a Sikeston native, pitched for the Redhawks in 2007 and 2008 after transferring from Saint Louis University, where he pitched two seasons for the Billikens.
Rhodes, a volunteer assistant at Southeast before spending the past three years as an assistant at Wabash Valley (Ill.) Junior College, also will serve as the Redhawks' recruiting coordinator.
Returning to the Southeast staff for his second season this year is volunteer assistant Michael Adamson, a former star outfielder for the Redhawks who completed his eligibility in 2011.
"He's more than your typical volunteer assistant. He does a great job filling in any task we need," Bieser said.
Southeast's 56-game regular-season schedule features 31 home contests and matchups with six NCAA regional teams from last year.
Defending OVC champion Austin Peay, OVC newcomer Belmont, Creighton, Missouri, Missouri State and Oral Roberts all qualified for an NCAA Regional in 2012.
"I think it's a very competitive schedule," Bieser said. "Obviously your conference is usually the focus, but to be competitive in our conference we have to play a difficult nonconference schedule."
The Redhawks, after opening the season at New Orleans in a three-game series Friday through Sunday, play their first home contest Feb. 19 against Harris-Stowe.
Southeast visits Missouri on April 30. The Redhawks and Tigers last met during the 2006 season.
"It's going to be exciting to play them again," Bieser said.
The Redhawks open OVC play March 8 to 10 at Belmont.
Two local products
The Redhawks have two players from the Southeast Missourian's coverage area.
Junior left-handed pitcher Skylar Cobb, a Scott City High School graduate who played the past two seasons at Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff, Mo., should see action out of the bullpen during his first year at Southeast.
"He's looked very good," Bieser said.
Also battling for playing time is outfielder Bob Clark, a Jackson High School graduate who redshirted as a freshman with the Redhawks last year.
Making Clark's push to see action difficult is the fact he primarily plays left field -- the spot occupied by all-OVC left fielder Derek Gibson, Southeast's top returning hitter.
"It's tough being behind Derek," Bieser said.