Wagner Finds Home in Cape Girardeau
March 1, 2007
Courtesy of Jason Unger, Wahoo Newspaper
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - It has been a long time coming for Southeast Missouri State sophomore baseball player Matt Wagner.
Wagner was a standout baseball player for the Wahoo Legion baseball team and after receiving a number of scholarship offers, made the decision to walk-on at the University of Nebraska Lincoln.
After redshirting his freshman season in 2005, Wagner suffered through an injury-plagued 2006.
Wagner suffered a knee injury the third day of spring practice and had only two at bats for the Huskers last season.
Wagner recovered from his knee injury and starred for the Nevada Griffons, a summer league team in Missouri. Wagner tore the cover off the ball at the plate and led the team in batting average.
Wagner played with Matt Wulfers, a Cape Girardeau native who was looking to transfer from the University of Missouri to Southeast Missouri State after also suffering an injury during his sophomore season in Columbia.
"Matt (Wulfers) and I became really good friends over the summer. We were both in similar situations," stated Wagner.
After meeting with Wulfers, SEMO Coach Mark Hogan found out that Wagner was also looking at a possible transfer.
After gaining permission from the University of Nebraska, Hogan met with Wagner about the possibility of playing for the Redhawks.
After meeting with Hogan and the SEMO coaching staff, Wagner turned in his Husker cap for an SEMO lid.
"Getting those two guys immediately made us a better baseball team," Hogan stated.
Hogan is in his 13th season at Southeast Missouri State. SEMO is a Division I school who competes in the Ohio Valley Conference is happy to have Wagner in the mix.
"Matt is off to a tremendous start. We knew it was just a matter of getting him some reps. He is going to be in there every day and he is just going to get better and better," Hogan added
Wagner, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound, left handed first baseman has stepped in and delivered from this seasons opening game.
The Redhawks opened the season with a three-game series in Jackson Mississippi on Feb. 17-18.
Wagner helped SEMO win two-out-of-three from Jackson State and was named the Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Week after three solid games at the plate. Wagner finished 5-of-13 with two doubles, a home run and five RBI.
"I swung the bat really well in that opening series. It was just great to be on the field again contributing in big spots," added Wagner.
Wagner's home run came on Sunday and put the Redhawks up 2-0 in the first inning.
"Matt is a guy who is going to deliver for us in the clutch," said Hogan.
Hogan also feels that Wagner will develop into one of the team's leaders.
"Even though he is just a sophomore, he has that quiet confidence about him and he is a guy that other players rally around," Hogan stated.
In addition to conference player of the week honors, Wagner also received national recognition after being named to the College Baseball Foundation National Honor Roll for his opening weekend's work.
The Redhawks are 4-2 this season and just finished off a doubleheader sweep of South Dakota State on Feb. 25.
"It just feels great to be playing everyday again and to finally be healthy. Things are going really well," added Wagner.