Baseball signs 1, hosts Bearcats tonight

Junior shortstop Jacob Taylor makes a play during Southerns game with Pittsburg State April 11. Southern split the doubleheader.

Cody Thorn

Junior shortstop Jacob Taylor makes a play during Southern’s game with Pittsburg State April 11. Southern split the doubleheader.

Cody Thorn

For the second straight week the Missouri Southern baseball team can lay claim to having one of the hottest players in the Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association.

Zach Caldwell, a junior outfielder, was tabbed as the Hitter of the Week by the MIAA offices. This award comes a week after pitcher CJ Maffei was named the Pitcher of the Week.

In a one-week offensive tear, staring against Southwest Baptist and then later against Pittsburg State, Caldwell hit .583 with 14 hits, four doubles, two home runs and 9 RBI.

Caldwell’s offensive explosion against Pittsburg State helped the Lions take three of four games this past week against its rival in games played in both Pittsburg and Joplin.

The Lions won both games in Pittsburg, 16-0 and 12-3, and ran its winning streak to seven in a row. The streak came to a halt with a 4-1 loss in the opener Saturday, before bouncing back to win the last game 5-1.

Maffei tossed the final game of the series to get the win.

“The goal is to win a series, so we were able to accomplish that,” Missouri Southern coach Bryce Darnell said. “Winning three more MIAA games is important.”

Thanks to taking three of four from the Gorillas, the Lions sit at 26-14 overall and still in sole possession of third place in the MIAA standings at 18-8.

If the Lions continue on its hot streak there is a pretty good shot at reaching some high marks for the program. Southern’s most baseball wins this decade came in 2001, when the team was 36-20 and runner-ups in the MIAA.

Other win totals that can be won or tied include 27 wins in 2003, 29 wins in 2002 and 32 in 2000.

The Lions enter this week with games against Missouri S&T and a weekend set at home against Northwest Missouri State.

“Northwest Missouri will pitch the ball well,” Darnell said. “They are a well-coached team. Coach Darin Loe will have them ready to play. They have struggled a bit this season, but we are counting on a tough series.”

The Bearcats are 16-22 overall and 8-16 entering play this year. However, NWMSU has won five of its last eight games, including three of its last six MIAA game.

Northwest’s pitching staff, that Darnell alluded to, includes Bret Harvel (3-5 overall) and Bill Disselhoff (3-1) who are both transfers from the Missouri Tigers.

The Bearcats and the Lions play at 6 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday.

This week the Lions signed Joplin High School senior Dane Kolkmeyer. Kolkmeyer, who was also the Eagles record-setting wide receiver, will join the Lions next fall.

“Dane is as good of a high school athlete as their is in this area,” Darnell said. “We look for him to come into the program and make an immediate impact.”

Last season Kolkmeyer hit .442 with 37 runs, seven doubles, and three triples. He had four home runs and 18 RBI.