Winning streak comes to a close for Lions baseball


Kristen Stacey |The Chart

Senior Tee Helsel stretches at first

The Lions (11-1, 4-0 MIAA) run toward an undefeated season has come to a close after they lost their first contest this year. The goal might not have been seriously attainable but it has helped push Southern out to a solid start for the third year in a row.

“Last year I feel like we were over confident, and that led to a lack of production on the field,” said senior Axel Johnson. “This year we have a group of guys who are hungry … that first loss was tough but that’s baseball. It’s a small bump in the road, but we believe in each other and know we’ll continue our success.”

March 7 through March 10 proved to be a very busy period for the Lions, who had been kept off the diamond previously by inclement weather. But over this period, the Lions could not get off the field, playing six games, including the first four conference showdowns of 2015.

The opening five went as planned, as the Lions continued to shut down their opponents at the new home baseball facility. Contest number six, however, proved to be a different story as the Lions fell behind early and simply could not battle back, ending their streak with an 8-4 loss.

The opening stanza to 2015 has been impressive. From the mound and in the batters’ box, Southern presents problems for its competitors, ranking second in the conference in team batting average (.360) and second in earned run average (3.13 per game).

A big part of this early success has been the play of junior transfer Chris Hoffman, who was awarded with the MIAA Hitter of the Week. Up to this point Hoffman has been a machine, cranking out the top batting average in the conference (.586), with this past week’s stats reading .682 batting average, 11 runs scored, 15 hits, three doubles, two triples, one home run, three RBI’s, 25 total bases, 1.136 slugging percentage and a .720 on base percentage.

That is the definition of an absolute tear at the plate.

Up next for the Lions are the first road games of the year. Southern travels to Fort Hays, Kan., for a four-game set with the opportunity to grade themselves against better conference competition. The ballgames begin March 13 at 3 p.m.