SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Missouri State baseball team will close out the regular season this weekend at Bradley.

The Bears are in the middle of the pack in the Missouri Valley Conference standings, but boast one of the top offenses.

MSU has hit a lot of home runs this season.

The 74 this spring is the most since 2017. It really means two things.

74 runs scored, and 74 griddys.

“About a week before the first game, I think we all just started hitting the griddy and we’re like, let’s do it when we hit our home run and it’s made hitting a home run fun,” Bears catcher Drake Baldwin said. “I mean, obviously hitting home runs, it’s fun. But when you get back in the dugout and griddy and everyone’s happy, it’s a lot of fun.”

“I think I’m still the worst kind of team by our votes, but hopefully I can do it a couple more times with practice,”” Bears home run leader and right fielder Dakota Kotowski said.

No one has done it more this season than Kotowski. The senior is tenth in the country in total home runs, and has doubled his production from his first three seasons.

“I think it just has to do with an approach and kind of, you know, getting a new eye sight of things,” Kotowski said. “Joey (Hawkins) and me kind of had steady conversation all the time about things. And baseball is a challenging game and can’t let the highs get to hide the lows”

“Dak’s continued to mature,” Bears head coach Keith Guttin said. “He has great raw power and that shows a lot. I think Joey (Hawkins) has really connected with him well. He’s knowing his strengths and he is really putting it together this year.”

Against Illinois State, Kotowski became the 9th Bear to hit 20 home runs in a season. That same ball out to left field made him the 9th Bear to reach 40 career home runs.

“I’ll always be thankful for it but I there’s more work to be done and I that’s the way I look at it,” Kotowski said. “I don’t want to be satisfied with that number and you know hopefully put the brakes on going and make a run for the tournament.”

A tournament at home and the last shot at a regional tournament.

“We have the ability to win multiple different ways with small ball hitting the ball to the park and hitting for power and with walks in there as well,” Baldwin said. “So if we click it or get it all clicking together, I think a really good shot.”

“It’s just coming together as a group,” Kotowski said. “And when that group comes together, that’s when you’ve got nine guys behind you. And, you know, that’s a special group. And I’ll take us against anybody in the Valley with that.”

The MVC Tournament will be held at Hammons Field with the opening games being played on Tuesday.