Southern looks to sweep its way to Kansas City


Photo Illustration by Samantha Zoltanski/The Chart

Junior David Reese pitches during game two of the double header against Missouri Western on April 28 at Joe Becker Stadium.

After a long season that began with high hopes, the Lions (29-18, 23-16 MIAA) find themselves defending their home field over the weekend in the first round of the MIAA Tournament.  Coming in as the No. 3 seed, Southern gets underway with games on Thursday and Friday at 5 p.m., followed by a game Saturday at 1 p.m. if necessary, but they believe the season will extend long beyond that.

“We feel confident going into the series especially being at the Beck,” junior, David Reese said, “Lions pull off crazy stunts at home.”

The team is set to face the RiverHawks of Northeastern State (27-21, 25-20 MIAA) in a best of three series with the chance to advance to the next round in Kansas City on the line, and after defeating Northeastern three out of four times this year the Lions feel like the games are theirs to lose.

“We are so pumped for Northeastern, we are ready to sweep the series and then head to KC,” junior  Ryan Bates said, “We will be ready, every pitch of every at bat.”

Following a mid-season 13 game winning streak, the Lions have been slowly climbing up the MIAA ranks in an attempt to secure home field, and with the spot still in limbo they faced #5 Missouri Western on Sunday.  

Game one was not a contest for the faint of heart as the Griffons (35-8, 28-5 MIAA) and Lions battled back and forth into extra innings. Southern was saved by stunning defense and clutch hitting by multiple players including third baseman Tee Helsel before freshman Zack Steadman shot a walk-off single to left with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to claim the victory.  

The Lions battled back from multiple make-or-break deficits in the seventh and eighth before plating the eventual game winner in the ninth, picking up clutch hits from the likes of Doughty, Helsel, and Steadman along the way.

A signature win in a season heading toward the playoffs for a Lions team determined to show that it can play with any squad headed to the tournament, in the first game Sunday Southern simply refused to lose.

“We already have the confidence to beat any team we face in our conference,” junior Drew Noble said, “We just got to play our game.”

The second game was not as thrilling as Western jumped out to a quick 5-1 advantage that it carried throughout the game.  Southern made a valiant effort to come back powered by a two-run home run by Sam Ryan but in the end the Lions fell 8-4 in the final game of the regular season.