CARLINVILLE, Ill. -- Richard Landers, a sophomore from Sikeston enjoyed a solid season for the Blackburn College baseball team this spring.
Landers started 39 of 41 games for Blackburn and finished the year with a .
266 average and 26 RBI, the second-highest total on the team. The Beavers' usual starter in left field during the first half of the season, Landers moved to the infield as the season progressed and saw much time at shortstop and third base. He tied for fourth on the team in hits with 38 and was fifth in total bases with 47 while tying for third-highest on the team with seven doubles.
Landers went 3-for-6 with three RBI in a 14-11 win to complete a doubleheader sweep at rival MacMurray College on April 9 and scored three runs in a 20-1 rout at Lincoln Christian College in the first game of a doubleheader sweep April 17. He also drove in two runs in an 8-5 win at Millikin University in the second game of a doubleheader the following day.
In addition, Landers went 1-for-2 with two runs scored in a 7-4 win over Principia College in the first game of a doubleheader April 21 and went a perfect 3-for-3 with two doubles, two runs scored, and three RBI in an 11-1 victory in the nightcap to complete the sweep.
In 2007, Blackburn reached the 20-win plateau for the sixth straight season. The Beavers have finished no lower than second in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in the last six years and are 97-29 in the conference in that span, the best of any league school.
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 athletics history in any sport, who led the Beavers to SLIAC titles in both 2002 and 2004. This season, Neal won his 200th game in a Blackburn uniform. 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. In 2005, he coached a similar group of all-stars on a weeklong exhibition tour of Barcelona, Spain.
Founded in 1837, Blackburn College is a four-year, Presbyterian-related, co- educational liberal arts college located 40 miles south of Springfield, Ill. The College is one of six work program colleges in the nation where students are required to work in jobs instrumental to the college's daily operations. The work program receives widespread recognition in American higher education and helps to keep Blackburn's tuition the lowest of all private colleges in Illinois and among the lowest in the United States.