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Bears Again on Prowl
By Andrew Finley
Missouri State has a proud baseball tradition.
The Bears were in the NCAA tournament six times
between 1995 and 2003, culminating in the school's first College
World Series appearance in 2003. In the years since, however,
times have been tough in Springfield, Mo., with things reaching
a low point in 2007 when the Bears lost a record 34 games and
finished eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference, their worst
The tide turned again in 2008. The Bears reached
40 wins for the first time since 2003 and finished second in the
MVC, narrowly missing out on the NCAA tournament.
first baseman Ben Carlson (left) credits two victories the first
weekend of the season for the turnaround. In their season
opener, the Bears came from behind to beat a quality Dallas
Baptist team. Carlson homered twice, getting a jumpstart on a
season that would see the big left-hander go deep 17 times.
next day, the Bears came from behind to knock off UT Arlington.
Carlson homered again and right-hander Tim Clubb (right) won his
first game of the season. Clubb went on to win his first 11
games, a school record. He finished the season 11-0 with a 2.52
ERA in 103.2 innings.
The Bears seem poised to continue their growth
this season. Eight of nine MVC coaches picked Missouri State to
win the conference. Carlson and Clubb, both junior captains,
will lead the way.
Carlson says his arm is completely after having
Tommy John surgery during the offseason. A year ago, he was
limited to DH duty; this year he will play first base and the
(right), who hit .379 with 67 RBI, likely will hit fourth in the
lineup behind Braden Drake, who also was an all-conference
player last year.
“He’s not just brute strength, he’s a good hitter
with good patience,” Bears coach Keith Guttin said.
In addition to earning All-American honors for
his play, Carlson was an academic All-American as a result of
his 3.9 GPA. He was the first player in school history to be
honored as both an athletic and academic All-American.
As for Clubb, Guttin describes him as,
“Everything you want in a college pitcher.”
The right-hander typically throws in the low 90s
and is always around the strike zone, seldom beating himself. He
also can throw his other three pitches for strikes. Clubb said
he likes to force hitters to prove they can handle his fastball
but will not hesitate to attack holes in hitters' swings.
Over the summer, Clubb and fellow starter Buddy
Baumann played for Brewster in the Cape Cod League. Clubb would
have posted the best ERA in the league with a 1.41 ERA but was
three innings short of qualifying for the title. Baumann also
performed well, posting a 2.35 ERA, eighth best in the league.
“Me and Buddy are better in terms of our mental
toughness,” Clubb said of his experience in the Cape.
(left) was drafted in the 42nd round of the draft by
Tampa Bay but chose to return to school.
“I want to continue improving in the mental
aspect of the game, as well as improve the consistency of my
changeup so that it is a pitch I have every game,” he said.
“What I like about these guys is they don't care
about numbers,” Guttin said.
Both Clubb and Carlson were attracted to Missouri
State because of its history. Clubb said he was attracted to the
school because it was a “program that has always been on the map
but not gotten the respect it deserved.”
“We need to take this team back to where they
were,” echoed Carlson.
(photos courtesy of Missouri State