March 10, 2020, was the last time the Southern Miss baseball team took the diamond. Nearly one full year since their 9-7 victory over Troy, the Golden Eagles will take back to the diamond, hosting Northwestern State on February 19 for a weekend series at Pete Taylor Park. Thursday, head coach Scott Berry and several players met with the media to discuss the upcoming season.
Below are quotes from the Media Day.
“Our guys came back in really good shape after what I feel like was a good fall camp that we had last semester,” said Berry. “If we backtrack to the last time we were on the field competitively against another team, it was March 10. Obviously, our guys are eager to get back out there and play someone else.”
“We’ve been going for the past two weeks through small group, individual work which limits us to eight hours per week. Tomorrow starts the time where we can team practice across D-I and we can increase our workload to 20 hours per week. We will take that time and prepare for our home-opener in three weeks.”
“As you can see by our schedule, it is very, very competitive. I think it is one of the best schedules we’ve put together since I’ve been here going on 21 years. A lot of competition, and a lot of parity in D-I baseball with getting players back from the previous year as well as getting in new players from the recruiting class. It ought to be an exciting year for college baseball, and we certainly hope it is here at Southern Miss.
WHAT TO EXPECT OFFENSIVELY
“Charlie Fischer is another guy I should mention in the middle of the lineup if we can get him healthy [back injury]. He’s a big power bat from the left side. He’s one of the guys who led us in hitting last season and he certainly has a feel for the offensive side. He’s a guy who knows how to swing a bat and we need to keep him healthy and in the lineup.”
“[Danny] Lynch and [Will] McGillis will be in there too. Reece Ewing is a guy from the left side who will likely see some action in there as well,” said Berry about the middle of the lineup.”
“Coming out of the fall we just have to be able to put the ball in play and cut down on strikeouts. A lot of times you’ll trade a strikeout for a home run, but I don’t know how many home runs we are going to hit. I don’t think it’s going to be what we’ve seen in the past few years, just because I don’t think we have the personnel maturity for that. We have a lot of young guys that I haven’t even mentioned that have a chance to see the field like Carson Paetow who is a big left-handed, strong outfielder/first baseman. Billy Garrity, a local guy from Sumrall, who really came on at the end of the fall.”
“The biggest thing, though, is competing at the plate, cut the strikeouts down, and put the pressure on the opposition by putting the ball in play. Those are the things I want to see moving forward. I think we have a chance to be an exciting lineup. We have a little more speed that we can do some different things.”
WHAT TO EXPECT DEFENSIVELY
“I think the guys that we return that saw significant action for us last season certainly haven’t played themselves out of the lineup. There is a good battle behind the plate with Blake and Andrew. They’ve complemented each other well. They’ll split some time each, probably.
“Lynch at third base, he’s done well, but he’s being pushed by some young guys. [Dustin] Dickerson anchors that shortstop area well. I thought last season that he was maturing as a hitter, finding out who he was. He hit just under .300 for us in the 16 games we played. I felt like he was a guy who came in out of high school that tried to play a bit bigger than what he was offensively, but over the course of the fall working with coach [Travis] Creel, he understood who he was and what he needed to do.”
“Will McGillis at second base. For three-straight years he will find himself starting at a new position. That’s a credit to him and his athleticism. He’s played second base like he has done it his whole life.”
“Sargent will be at first, and if we move to the outfield, [Gabe] Montenegro will continue to hold down his spot. He does a lot of things right. He’s a really good baseball player. Reed Trimble is athletic and is out in centerfield. He was there last year. We did use him a little in the infield this fall, just trying to see if we could get him in somewhere offensively as well. Reece Ewing has played well out there [right field], and we talked about Slade Wilks. Fisher Norris, who was one of the outfielders last year continues to work hard out there as well.”
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE MOUND
“Our pitching staff is the most competitive. We’ve got a lot of good pitchers that are right there together. There’s not a lot of separation in all honesty. I think if you look ahead to the weekend, and not to say this is the rotation, but I think the guys with the best chance during the non-conference games which will be three-game weekends before we start the four-game weekends in conference play are Hunter Stanley, Gabe Shepard, Chandler Best, Drew Boyd, and Walker Powell. All those guys have a chance and are still competing for that opportunity.”
“The guys behind them are all solid as relievers and they are guys we can utilize and do some things with. We have some different looks coming out of the bullpen. We have 20 pitchers on the staff, so we have some options. Five of those guys are left-handed, and they all have the ability to get on the mound for us whether that be as a starter or coming in as relief for us. We are excited.”
“Christopher Sargent will be our first baseman and could see some time behind the plate,” said Berry. “He’s a right-handed, power hitter in the middle of the lineup. I think last season we were kind of searching for that in our offense. Sargent showed up and has practiced well,” said Berry.
“Another guy who has shown up is Slade Wilks, a true freshman from Columbia Academy. His fall started off like any normal freshman fall, but as we got deeper into it, his game started to develop and you could see that he started maturing as a hitter and defensive player in the outfield.
“Cade Crosby is a true freshman out of Gulfport and we are going to find him in the lineup somewhere. I can’t tell you where that is right now, but he is an exciting baseball player that does a lot of things right. He’s going to find himself on the field often for us.”
“Michael Wein transferred from Pearl River and he’s kind of a swing guy. We’ve played him at third, second, and first base. He’s a switch-hitter and gives us a bit of an option out there against left-handed pitchers.”