CARLINVILLE, ILL - Richard Landers, a sophomore from Sikeston, is enjoying a solid season for the Blackburn College baseball team this spring.
Landers settled into a starting role early on for the Beavers, first as Blackburn's left fielder and more recently as the regular shortstop. He was hitting .311 with 15 RBI, which tied for second on the team, through April 12 and went 3-for-6 with three RBI in a 14-11 win over MacMurray in the second game of a doubleheader sweep on April 9.
The victories over MacMurray were part of a streak of eight wins in ten games for Blackburn, which has vaulted itself into contention for the program's third St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title in the last seven years.
In addition, Landers went 3-for-6 with a season-high four RBI in Blackburn's 14-13 win over Millikin University in a game played at SIU-Carbondale on March 7. He also went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run scored in Blackburn's 9-8, extra-inning win at Robert Morris College, an NAIA program in Springfield, Ill., on April 4.
Landers also produced three hits in five at-bats in the Beaver's 7-6 win at Loyola University - New Orleans, an NAIA school of some 5,500 students, on March 13, a day after driving in two runs in a game at the University of Mobile. He also went a combined 4-for-9 in a doubleheader against Carroll College on March 25.
A 2005 graduate of Sikeston High School, Landers is the son of Kevin and Sandy Landers. He is the latest in a long line of Sikeston products to star for the Blackburn baseball program, including Blackburn career ERA leader Billy Puckett (2003-04) and his brother Jamie Puckett (2005-06), who earned first-team all-
SLIAC honors a year ago.
Landers' head coach is Mike Neal, the winningest coach in Blackburn baseball history who led the Beavers to SLIAC titles in both 2002 and 2004. Blackburn has not finished lower than second in the conference in the last five years under Neal, who has led the Beavers to an 83-22 conference record and 125-83 overall mark in that span.
A coach who is highly regarded by his peers, Neal has a long resume of success on the collegiate and amateur levels as well as internationally, as he led a team of U.S. collegiate all-stars on tours of the Czech Republic in both 2002 and 2003.