The countdown for college baseball has begun.
The Southern Miss baseball season starts in less than a month, and the defending Conference USA champions will not only be a fun team to watch but more importantly will be the team to beat in C-USA.
The regular season champs, Florida Atlantic, lost six of their starters from last year’s talented squad. Rice, on the other hand, looks to be another competitive group again, but like FAU have lost their fair share of seniors. If the Golden Eagles can figure out their pitching staff quickly, they can easily run the table in the conference.
The Golden Eagles will open the season against Northeastern State, who will be a perfect rust-buster and test for them.
Northeastern last season was a scrappy team that finished 31 – 27. The biggest key to their success was their pitching staff, which they will look to lean on. Their team returns their entire pitching staff, including ace Aaron Civale, who finished the season with a 1.73 earned run average and a 9 – 3 record. As a team, Northeastern’s pitching staff posted a 3.71 ERA.
Northeastern’s mediocre hitting will hopefully help the Golden Eagle pitching staff find its groove early. As strong as their pitching was last season, Northeastern’s bats were nowhere near as impressive. The team as a whole had a .255 batting average. Northeastern returns almost their entire team from last season and will try to prove themselves when they play the Golden Eagles.
Northeastern will be no slouch for the Golden Eagles, but if USM keeps their heads in the game, then they can look at opening the season with a sweep.
The Golden Eagles should ultimately try to embrace the challenge of that pitching staff after they finished last season with a .305 batting average. The Northeastern pitching will hopefully wake the bats up early in the season in order to get offensive production going.
The Golden Eagles will open the season on Feb. 17 at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg.