Notre Dame, Jackson carry top two seeds into SEMO Conference baseball tournament

Friday, April 26, 2019

With the SEMO Conference Tournament kicking off today, teams are looking to iron out any wrinkles as they prepare for the postseason.

Notre Dame and Jackson headline the eight-team tournament as the top two seeds, as both finished with 6-1 records in conference play to finish as co-champions. Notre Dame earned the top seed by winning the head-to-head matchup. Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett noted he's thrilled having the top seed but to not expect the Bulldogs to rest on their laurels.

"It's nice to be recognized, but anybody can win this tournament," he said. "The way the conference is set up, it's great to have a home game, which eliminates that bus ride."

Third baseman Collin Dumey has had a strong senior season, along with others.

"Our senior leadership is a good reason we're in the position we are now." Graviett said.

The Bulldogs host No. 8 seed New Madrid County Central at 4:30 p.m. today.

Second-seeded Jackson also plays at home, hosting No. 7 Dexter. The teams played each other in the first round last year, with the Indians winning 17-3. That game also starts at 4:30 p.m.

Jackson ultimately reached the championship game last year, falling to Poplar Bluff.

Jackson coach Bryan Austin said playing in front of the home fans gives his Indians an extra boost, and wants his players to enjoy the moment.

"It's a huge deal for us to play in front of our home crowd because of the success we've had in the past," Austin said. "We still have to play and focus on the first game because if you don't play well, you'll get beat. We also have nine seniors who have tournament experience, so they don't feel the pressure to guide the ship."

In Jackson's last game, junior Seth Essner had a two-run hit to lead the team to a 4-0 victory over Poplar Bluff to claim a share of the title.

After today's games, action will move over to Capaha Field. The semifinals will be held at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Saturday, with the championship slated for 7 p.m. Monday.

"Growing up, the kids in the area look up to Southeast Missouri State players, and having the opportunity to play at Capaha is a dream come true for them," Austin said.

"It's an awesome place, and the rich history of Capaha Park presents a lifetime memory to be made for these kids," Graviett said. "But, we have to make sure we eliminate distractions and just come ready to play."

Other first-round matchups include No. 5 Sikeston traveling to No. 4 Kennett, and No. 3 Poplar Bluff hosting No. 6 Cape Girardeau Central.

Today's SEMO Conference Tournament Games

#8 NMCC at #1 Notre Dame, 4:30 p.m.

#7 Dexter at #2 Jackson, 4:30 p.m.

#5 Sikeston at #4 Kennett, 4 p.m.

#6 Cape Central at #3 Poplar Bluff, 4:30 p.m.

2019 SEMO Conference Standings

1. Notre Dame 6-113-6
2. Jackson6-115-6
3. Poplar Bluff4-214-4
4. Kennett4-312-5
5. Sikeston 3-38-6
6. Cape Central2-35-7
7. Dexter 1-62-14
8. NMCC 0-75-14
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