HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WLOX) - Coming off their fourth consecutive season with at least 40 wins and a NCAA Regional birth, the 2020 Southern Miss baseball team hope to do the same - and then some - but they don’t expect to get there with a lot of long balls like we saw last season.
Of their 67 home runs hit in 2019, only 19 of those were by players who are returning this season. With departures like home-run king Matt Wallner in the pros - drafted by his hometown Minnesota Twins - and Bryant Bowen transferring to South Carolina for his final year of eligibility, the Golden Eagles don’t have too many big bats on the roster. Instead, they’ll have to get creative, focusing more on singles and doubles than hitting it out of the park.
What they do have is a deep pitching staff that includes sophomore righty Gabe Shepard and seniors Walker Powell and Gulfport Native Alex Nelms, who’s a team captain this year. Ten-year skipper, Scott Berry, spoke about what the Diamond Eagles must do a better job of this season.
“The blueprint of this team is totally different that any team that we’ve had here for quite awhile," Berry said during in the team’s media day.
"In all honesty, it’s got to be a different philosophy, different mindset. We’ve really got to win on the mound and defensively. Last year, we had the worst fielding percentage that we’ve had in a long time 963. That’s not good. We had 80 something errors last year. We’ve got to not do that, we can’t afford to do that.”
USM’s Opening Weekend series against Murray State begins Friday at 4 p.m. at Pete Taylor Park.