By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer
The Missouri Southern offense could be downright offensive.
Lions coach Bryce Darnell, although naturally cautious, doesn’t totally disagree.
“We believe it’s a good offense,” Darnell said Friday. “We just hope people perform like we believe they’re capable of playing.
“This team certainly has the potential to be as good on offense as we’ve been in the last few years,” Darnell said. “We have a lot of people returning on offense.
“Power? I don’t know about that. But we have several players capable of gap power.”
The Lions averaged .310 last season in finishing 32-19 overall and 23-17 in the MIAA.
The Lions open their baseball season today with an 11:45 a.m. doubleheader in Minneapolis in the Metrodome against Montana State-Billings.
Darnell has tapped Brett Abell, a senior left-hander from Miami, to start the opener.
Darnell said the probable top four in the Lions’ batting order will consist of senior second baseman Michael McCoy, senior left fielder Dallas Burke, senior right fielder Nick Doughty and senior third baseman Sam Ryan.
Darnell said first baseman Shaun Hoover, a senior, will hit fifth. Junior Tee Helsel or senior Will Wagner will be the designated hitter.
Completing the probable order will be senior center fielder Dane Kolkmeyer, junior catcher Mitchell Osburn and senior shortstop Thomas Wilson.
“Burke is an added jolt to our offense,” Darnell said of the University of Iowa transfer who missed 2012 with a shoulder injury. “He’s a proven hitter.”
The left-handed swinging Burke averaged nearly .400 in earning all-conference honors in 2011.
The right-handed batting McCoy paced the Lions last season with a .375 average on 69 of 184. He also was No. 1 with those hits, 45 runs batted in and a .421 on-base percentage.
Ryan, who averaged .312, had the most home runs (8), drove in 42 runs and had the No. 1 slugging percentage (.558).
Helsel, Kolkmeyer and Wilson posted respective averages of .289, .279 and .277. Helsel, the team co-leader with 14, Kolkmeyer and McCoy combined for 37 doubles.
Southern will play two more seven-inning games at 7 a.m. on Sunday against Montana State-Billings.
“It will be a typical pitch count,” Darnell said of the starting hurlers. “Game situations will dictate pitching moves. Our pitchers are in game condition.”