Southern to host 6th-ranked Emporia State this weekend

The Missouri Southern baseball team (12-20, 10-8 MIAA), fresh off a four-game split with Northwest Missouri State, will host the nation’s sixth ranked team this weekend.

The Emporia State University Hornets (32-3, 18-0 MIAA) are riding a 25-game winning streak and have not lost since March 8th.

“As far as us playing Emporia, it’s more about what we do as compared to what they do, Darnell said. “We need to take care of the things we can control, throw strikes and play good defense and you’ve always got a chance.”

The Achilles’ heel for the Lions early on in the season had been their pitching. However, last weekend in Maryville, senior pitcher Scotty Roberson and junior hurler Ryan Verfurth each pitched complete games in victories for the Lions.

“I would say the four starts that we got this weekend were good starts with the exception of maybe one inning,” Darnell said.

At the plate is where the Lions have had the most success this season.

As a team, the Lions are hitting just over .300 and they have scored nearly 200 runs. However, Southern’s lineup was dealt a blow when junior right fielder Kenny Hart went down with a broken thumb.

He will miss the remainder of the season.

Senior second baseman Cliff Wheeler and junior first baseman Derek Ezell have been near the top of the MIAA in batting this season as both are hitting over .400.

One place the Lions are getting better numbers than most might expect is from true freshman shortstop Skyler Rawlins.

Rawlins, is hitting .286 with three home runs and 15 RBI. He has also started every game at shortstop.

“He’s having a very good year for a freshman and he is the kind of athlete who will continue to improve,” Darnell said. “I’d be lying if I told you I’m not all that surprised, he is a smart athlete, he is outstanding and he is going to be a huge part of our team in the next three years.”