The Southeast Missouri State University club baseball team is in its third year of existence, but it appears to already have a target painted on its back.
The team finished last year in second place within its district in only its first year as a member of the National Club Baseball Association.
The team joined the NCBA in time for the 2011 spring season, after playing its first games in the fall of 2010. Team manager Dan McLeester said that joining the NCBA was not too hard.
"It just required some paperwork and coming up with the league registration fee," McLeester said.
The team finished with a 7-8 record last year. Apparently, many of the teams didn't like how easy it came to Southeast in only its first year. The NCBA asked all teams to list its rival, and every team in Southeast's district listed Southeast as its rival.
"The other schools did not like how we came in and beat up on all of them in our first year," Southeast outfielder Ryan Dudley said.
"We shocked teams," McLeester said. "We were the news guys, and we swept Pulaski and Missouri State in the first three games against them. We have been playing Southern Illinois Carbondale ever since we started and have been evenly matched with them."
Southeast beat Pulaski Tech on the field, but it later lost to them on a technicality. Southeast didn't have its team roster on the NCBA website, so Pulaski Tech appealed the games and Southeast was forced to forfeit all three games.
While the players didn't know it at the time, it ended up costing Southeast the division title since it finished one game behind the division winner Central Missouri.
"We would have easily had the division and a World Series berth if it were not for the Pulaski Tech protest," McLeester said.
The team will play many of the same teams as last year but is in a larger district this year. The District VI South Division consists of Southeast, SIU Carbondale, Missouri State, Central Missouri and Pulaski Tech. The winner of this division will play the winner of the District VI North Division to determine the winner of the entire district. The winner of that game will represent the district in the NCBA World Series in Columbus, Ga.
Both Dudley and McLeester said the team's expectations are to win its division and make it to the World Series.