1. New faces – With only five returning starters, the Golden Eagles have a rebuilding year set before them. The loss of key players at the conclusion of the 2019 season left significant voids to fill. Sophomore Will McGillis moved to first base to replace Hunter Slater. Freshman Dustin Dickerson donned number ten to replace Storme Cooper. Redshirt freshman Fisher Norris started in right field in place of current Elizabethton Twins outfielder Matt Wallner. Junior Brian Davis was behind the plate in place of Cole Donaldson who is also with the Elizabethton Twins, the rookie affiliate of the Minnesota Twins.
In addition to true freshmen on the roster transfer students Andrew Stanley, Tyler Lantz, Tyler Spring, Connor Howton, Brian Davis and Austen Izzio join the Golden Eagles’ roster. Joining the Southern Miss coaching staff is assistant coach (hitting) Travis Creel and volunteer assistant Ladd Rhodes.
2. Strong offense – Southern Miss had 15 runs for the first game. Matthew Guidry had a home run in the bottom of the first which started off the Golden Eagles’ hot streak. Guidry had a .297 batting average with eight home runs and 47 RBIs in 2019. Sophomores Charlie Fischer and Fisher Norris both had three RBIs for the first game. Fischer also had a home run, and Norris had a triple in game one. Although Fischer only appeared in two games in 2019, he had a .182 batting average, two hits and one RBI. Gabe Montenegro led the 2019 team with a .342 average, keeping him in the leadoff slot so far for 2020. Bowen, Wallner and Slater followed Montenegro on the leaderboard leaving gaps in the Golden Eagle offense.
3. Depth in the bullpen – Coach Scott Berry rotated through the Golden Eagles’ bullpen, giving each pitcher time on the mound. After his combined no-hitter at the Conference USA tournament in 2019, Gabe Shephard rose as a leader for the Golden Eagles. In 2019 Shephard finished with a 2.35 ERA, which was the lowest of the team. Shephard started off in the scrimmage for Southern Miss followed by Lantz, Drew Boyd, Josh Lewis and Tyler Spring. Lewis had a 6.21 ERA last season from the three games he appeared in.
Southern Miss has qualified for four consecutive NCAA regionals, including the 2019 tournament in Baton Rouge, La. The team has not yet released the 2020 schedule.