Young baseball team looks toward full season, weather permitting

Keith Robertson

After being drummed by Dallas Baptist in the first four games of the season, the Missouri Southern baseball team put up three wins on Feb. 22.

The Lions defeated Quincy University 3-2 and 1-0 and Oklahoma Panhandle 12-0 to bring their record to 3-4 on the season.

“Our pitching staff has done well so far,” Turner said. “We have a very good Division II staff and I think it will be the strong point of our team all season.”

The pitching staff is led by Nick Johnson and Nick Davis, both juniors, and sophomore Nathan Hughes. Johnson (1-1) is leading the rotation with 12 innings pitched and a 1.50 ERA. Davis (1-0) has pitched eight innings and posted a 1.13 ERA. Hughes, the only lefty of the trip, has pitched six innings and has a 1.50 ERA.

It is still early in the season, but to have three pitchers that can give the team a lot of innings and keep the ERA low is something Turner is looking forward to throughout the season.

“These guys are young, and that is good, because they are going to be able to do well for us beyond just this season,” Turner said.

The Lions are off to a slower start offensively. Turner said the offensive statistics are not representative of how his team is doing because it is using wood bats.

The team has been using wood bats as much as possible this season, and offensive numbers decline a little when a college team does not use customary aluminum bats, especially early in the season.

“Our offensive numbers are not as high as they could be right now because of the wood bats, but the guys like using them, and it is really going to help them a lot in the long run,” Turner said. “We are going to keep using wood as much as possible, too.”

Leading the Lions in offense is senior third baseman Mark Keister. Keister is leading the team with four RBI and eight total bases, and he is slugging .421 in 19 at bats. Troy Lallemand, a junior middle infielder, is also among the leaders with a .429 batting average, .571 slugging percentage and a .556 on base percentage.

Another obstacle the team has to face is Mother Nature. It is not uncommon to lose a few games due to weather this early in the season. But Southern’s schedule is set up in such a way it can make up missed games or play some non-scheduled games on off days in the early and middle parts of the season.

“Missing games throughout the season can hurt us,” Turner said. “It is up to me to make sure the team plays as many of the 56 games we are allowed in a single season. That is why I set up the schedule to allow for some missed games early in the season.”

The Lions will be back on the diamond, weather permitting, on Saturday and Sunday.

They will host Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville for two wood-bat doubleheaders. The first of the doubleheaders is scheduled to start at 12 p.m. on Saturday.