The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

April 26, 2013

Lions set to face weather, league-leading Griffons

By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer

— Rain and wet grounds are threatening this weekend’s three-game series between Missouri Southern and MIAA regular-season champion Missouri Western at Joe Becker Stadium.

The two teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader at 1 p.m. today. Instead, one game will be played tonight at 7, weather and field conditions permitting.

A doubleheader will be played on Sunday, which is also Senior Day.

The Joplin Regional Airport recorded 1.45 inches of rain through 7 p.m. Friday on already-saturated ground. The forecast called for an 80 percent change of showers overnight and a 50 percent chance of showers today.

Missouri Southern (28-17, 22-15 MIAA) is in fourth place, 1/2-game ahead of Central Oklahoma, which plays this weekend at Truman State.

The top four teams will play at home in the first round of the eight-team MIAA postseason tournament.

MSSU is batting .297 as a team, led by right fielder Dallas Burke at .345. Second baseman Michael McCoy is batting .328 and leads the team in hits (60), runs scored (34) and total bases (85).

Catcher Sam Ryan is batting .333 and leads the Lions with 15 doubles. He is tied for the team lead in stolen bases (10) with shortstop Thomas Wilson, who is batting .318.

Left fielder Will Wagner leads the Lions in home runs (7), RBI (34) and slugging percentage (.569) to go along with his .317 batting average.

The Lions’ five starting pitchers are left-handers Brett Abell (4-2, 4.08) and Payton Walker (5-4, 2.89) and right-handers Ryan Bates (5-1, 3.99), David Reese (4-6, 4.57) and Drew Noble (6-3, 5.13).

 Missouri Western (34-7, 27-4 MIAA) will counter with a lineup that was No. 2 in batting in NCAA Division II through games of April 21. The Griffons are batting .361 with 54 home runs and have outscored their opponents 346-176.

Michael Schulze leads MWSU in batting at .436. He is tied for second on the team in total bases (104), has an on-base percentage of .513 and has 13 stolen bases.

Grant Fink, who is batting .411, leads the Griffons in home runs (12) and slugging percentage (.735). Three more Griffons — Kyle Simpson (.382), Bubba Dotson (.379) and Nate Ramler (.359) are batting above .350.

Brandon Simmons (9-0, 2.92) has won all nine of his starts and has pitched three complete games. Logan Hollingsworth (5-1, 2.01) has nine saves.