25 Feb

humming right along

With a new-look lineup but familiar expectations, Delta State is humming along this season. DSU takes an 8-2 record – with only one appearance to date at Ferriss Field in Cleveland – into a big Gulf South Conference series at Lee University this weekend. The Statesmen took two of three at West Alabama last weekend in their GSC opening series. Lee is 10-2 and 2-1. Both schools are ranked in various polls. DSU won the conference tournament last season, earning yet another bid to the NCAA Division II postseason, and was pegged to finish second in the league in the preseason poll. Newcomers are all over the DSU lineup, and many have settled in quite nicely. Zack Shannon, a junior college transfer from Illinois, is batting .410 with 10 RBIs and Emil Ellis, an East Mississippi Community College transfer, is at .359 with nine runs. Division I transfer Clay Casey, a former DeSoto Central and Northwest Mississippi CC standout, has just six hits but two have left the park, and he’s got five RBIs. The pitching staff also lost some key players from 2016 but returned a solid core. Oddly enough, Tre Hobbs, the senior All-America candidate, owns both of the team’s losses. The left-hander is 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA. That number is sure to drop. Corey Beard, who has been the No. 1 starter, is 2-0, 4.76. Zach Osbon has been an ace out of the bullpen: 2-0, two saves, no runs allowed and 12 punchouts in 9 2/3 innings. DSU coach Mike Kinnison has averaged 42.6 wins over his 20 seasons. That’s a high standard – but one the 2017 Statesmen appear capable of reaching. P.S. Mississippi College, the state’s other D-II program, heads into a GSC road series this weekend still tuning its engine. The Choctaws thumped Arkansas-Monticello 10-5 earlier this week for just their second win. They are 2-10 and 0-3 GSC as they take on West Alabama in Livingston. MC went 17-30, 8-25 in 2016. Bettering those numbers in Jeremy Haworth’s second season might be tough.

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