Karlee Lursen ~ Arrow Reporter
Southeast Missouri State University's former baseball coach Mark Hogan's teams produced 15 major league draft picks, 13 all-Americans and 18 Ohio Valley Conference tournament appearances in his 18 years at Southeast.
But the team only made it to the NCAA tournament two times -- in 1998 and 2002 -- during Hogan's tenure, which ended when he retired in July.
Interim head coach Steve Bieser, along with his new coaching staff, is looking to change coaching philosophies this year to try to take the Southeast program to another level and a berth into the NCAA tournament. Lance Rhodes will work specifically with pitchers, while Dillon Lawson will work with hitters.
Bieser was named interim coach by athletic director Mark Alnutt for the 2012-2013 school year following Hogan's retirement. Bieser was an assistant coach under Hogan for two years and focused mainly on pitching. A permanent coach will be given the position following the 2013 season.
Bieser along with Rhodes and Lawson, and volunteer assistant Michael Adamson, wants to create a more defensive and quick team, as compared to previous power-hitting teams that Southeast has had.
"I like a team built around defense and speed, and that is something that we have kind of focused on early on as we have a lot of athletic players here," Bieser said. "If you look at our starting infield four of them were starting shortstops in high school."
According to Bieser, being a shortstop means a player is quick, athletic, can cover a lot of ground and also has quick hands.
"Getting those types of guys in our program, finding more athletic guys who are versatile and can play lots of different positions are very important for us to find for our offense," Bieser said.
Bieser is expecting the athleticism and versatility of his current players to create the offense for the team this year, as opposed to previous years.
Trenton Moses, the third baseman for Southeast last year, ranked fourth in the nation with 19 home runs to go alongside shortstop Kenton Parmley with 13. Both players were seniors last season and will not return to put up the same numbers. Moses was drafted following the season by the Atlanta Braves.
"We are very athletic and have a lot of players that can play multiple positions. Because of this we will be able to go out there and find ways to score runs," said Jason Blum, a redshirt sophomore infielder.
Bieser's new philosophy is to change little things constantly in order to help the team be successful this year. He will work on different plays in different situations during practice, so when it comes to game time there will be no situation the players are not prepared for.
"We are going to be a lot more creative offensively as well as defensively," Bieser said. "We have a lot more guys that can freelance plays by being aware of the situation around them and catching a guy off base."
Bieser defines success as doing something correctly and the way it should be done.
"We want to make sure our successes are deserved," Bieser said. "Even if we get away with something, we will show the players how to clean it up and be successful in that situation all the time."
With a new coaching staff comes a different style of play. Southeast is considered to be more of a mid-major level team in Division I, which means they typically do not get lights out pitchers and athletes that can hit double digit home-runs every season, so Southeast will look to play small ball this year and force other teams to make the mistakes.
"What we did last year wasn't wrong, it was just a different style," Bieser said. "We don't get the guy on the mound that can dominate on the mound or get 15 homeruns a year."
"Coach Bieser plays a little more small ball and always focuses on the small things," said junior pitcher Christian Hull. "Coach Hogan was very aggressive and tried to create a lot of runs. They are both great coaches, just with different philosophies."
With the team being made up of mostly first-year and second-year Division I players Bieser is expecting the team to get better every day.
Bieser said he does not want to set a goal for a number of wins this year, and instead wants the team to focus on playing good and fundamentally solid baseball day in and day out in order to be competitive against every team they play.
"Our only seniors are on our pitching staff. We are going to be very young and focus on making sure each weekend we get better," Bieser said. "We will be super competitive in every single game we play this year."
Southeast opens up its season Friday in New Orleans against the University of New Orleans Privateers. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.