Senior pitcher Stevie Powers is one of a few Southern Miss players who are in line for an increased role in 2019. This is even more apparent following the Cleveland Indians selecting 2018 Nick Sandlin in the second round of the MLB Draft last June.
Compared to his first two seasons as a Golden Eagle, Powers took a big step forward as a junior in 2018, becoming a steady member of the weekend rotation.
The left-hander started a career-high 14 games, had a career-high 73 innings pitched and finished the 2018 campaign with a 5-2 win-loss record. As a junior, Powers also lowered his ERA to 4.07, compared to his 5.13 ERA mark in 2017. Prior to 2018, Powers had started just seven games in 48 appearances over the 2016 and 2017 seasons.
At baseball media day on Jan. 23, Powers shared his thoughts on how last season turned out for him as a player.
“I felt really good,” Powers said. “I was really excited about the task at hand at the beginning of last year and excited for a new opportunity to kind of move up into that starter role. I felt like it fits me a lot better, kind of something that I’ve always been used to, coming from high school and stuff. I was ready to move up and ready to take that on, obviously having Coach [Ostrander] as a new component of our team, so he helped me a lot along the way, and obviously, our offense did a great job scoring runs behind me as well.”
Despite the overall success Powers and the Golden Eagles enjoyed last season, the season did not end on a high note. In game two against Arkansas in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional on June 2, 2018, Powers allowed seven runs on five hits in 1.2 innings of work. The Golden Eagles were eliminated from the postseason in a 9-4 loss against Dallas Baptist the following day.
Powers’ overall performance from last season has not gone unnoticed, however. Along with fellow Southern Miss starting pitcher Walker Powell, Powers was named to the 2019 Conference USA Preseason All-Conference team.
Powers talked about stepping up into a leadership role this season.
“I would definitely see myself as one of the leaders,” Powers said. “You know, I definitely think that Nick [Sandlin] last year, it was his staff, he did a great job at leading us and establishing that game one win basically every single Friday night, and now I look this year to do the same thing, whatever night it is, whatever my role is, whatever they call upon me. I’m going to look to do the same thing.”
Despite the loss of Sandlin from the rotation, two key components of the 2018 weekend rotation return. Powers and Powell combined to start 30 games and 156 innings over the course of the season.
Potentially joining them in the weekend rotation this season is junior outfielder/pitcher Matt Wallner, who made 21 appearances as a pitcher over the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
Still, with a fresh new season approaching, Powers’ main goal is to ensure that the team has a chance to win when he is out on the mound.
“As long as I’m not giving away free stuff, and that’s hit batters, walks, stuff like that, I’m not really worried about the stats,” Powers said. “As long as I can go out there and give our team a chance to win week by week, then I feel like I’m doing my job.”