Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Rounding up the bases: SEMO Baseball gears up for electrifying season

Thursday, February 8, 2024
Senior outfielder Josh Cameron steps up to the plate against Tennessee Tech on Saturday Apr. 15 at Capaha Field. Cameron led the Redhawks in home runs last season with 16.
Photo by Isaiah Collins

Excitement is building as Southeast Missouri State University’s baseball team, the Redhawks, prepare for what Head Coach Andy Sawyers promises will be an electrifying season offensively.

“I think it’s going to be pretty electric offensively when it gets going. It’s a really talented and dynamic group. I’m excited about it. They’ll be a fun team to watch.”

SEMO kicks off a packed 55-game schedule with a challenge as the Redhawks face reigning Conference USA Champion Dallas Baptist University (DBU) in a three-game series from February 16th to 18th.

Sawyers emphasized the team’s readiness, stating, “We’re pretty talented right now… our arm talent on the mound is as good as it’s been for about 10 deep.”

He continued by highlighting the addition of five new players who are set to make an immediate impact on the team’s success.

Brian Strange, a power arm from Mineral Area College (MAC), brings a formidable presence to the pitching rotation. Despite a setback due to injury last fall, Strange’s raw talent and commanding presence on the mound make him a force to be reckoned with.

“He’s got a big arm, but he’s got command and moxie and imagination. His daddy (Patrick Strange) pitched in the big league, so he’s got good genetics and he’s not scared,” Sawyers said.

Joining Strange on the pitching staff is left-hander Alex Hayes, whose impressive resume includes leading his team to the Junior College World Series. Hayes adds depth and versatility to the Redhawks’ bullpen.

Sawyers added, “Hayes is a lefty with a 90 mph fastball and a really good slider. He’s pitched in big games. He was the number one. He’s been in big moments and he’s not afraid of it.”

Another noteworthy junior college transfer joining the pitching staff is Sam Heyman, a power right-hander with an impressive sinker-slider combination. He led the northern half of California in ERA last year.

Heyman comes from the same junior college that produced Joey Lucchesi, who currently plays for the Mets and was OVC pitcher of the year at SEMO in 2016.

“Those three guys are all starter profile guys. They have good stuff and come from good programs. We’re excited about them,” according to Sawyers.

On the offensive front, Michael Mugan, a dynamic junior college transfer, brings a blend of speed, power, and precision to SEMO’s lineup.

“He’s kind of a smaller kid, but has way better strength and pop than you’d think he would have. He can run, he’s got a great top hand, he’s strong, he’ll slug it, he can steal a base, and play center field,” Sawyers said.

Mugan described his game as “gritty” saying he “wants to be up to bat when the game is on the line.”

Finally, the Redhawks add a true freshman to the roster, Brooks Kettering. With a left-handed swing, Kettering impressed coaches and teammates alike during the fall, batting an impressive .400.

“I think Brooks is the most talented freshman we’ve had since Trevor Ezell (SEMO’s hitting coach),” Sawyers added.

The Redhawks also bring back a number of seasoned veterans to the roster. And after the way last season ended, they’re back with a vengeance.

The Redhawks lost in the first round of the OVC tournament last season after clenching back-to-back rings the years before.

“Last year left a dirty taste in our mouths and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Sawyers said.

Senior outfielder, Josh Cameron, a cornerstone of SEMO baseball, said, “The one thing I can take from it, is that you have to finish just as strong as you start.”

He continued by outlining the team’s goals for the 2024 season.

“The big goal is the conference championship and then a regional appearance. We’re also looking for 100 homers and 100 stolen bases.” He said, “To do that, we’re going to have to play as a team all year long. It’s going to take one through nine, playing together and executing the game to be able to reach those goals.”

Sawyers looked ahead on this season saying, “I think it’s going to be pretty electric offensively when it gets going. It’s a really talented and dynamic group. I’m excited about it. They’ll be a fun team to watch.”

Fans, get ready as the team plays 28 home games in the 2024 season! SEMO Baseball opens up their home season on Feb. 20 against Murray at 3 PM.