Several questions surrounded the Golden Eagles season, including how USM would replace the pitching rotation, could this potent offensive lineup produce runs and others.
Those questions were answered against the Northeastern Huskies in their three-game series, ending it in walk-off fashion from Storme Cooper in the last contest.
“I felt getting one run at a time, getting a few runs at a time, that helps most – not [trying] to get five runs at a time. Last inning walk off, it’s always good to end on a walk off. Pretty exciting for the team as a whole.”
The starting pitching for Southern Miss was one of the biggest question marks after seniors Cody Livingston and Cody Cockrell graduated. But despite the seven-run barrage that the Huskies put forth in the last contest on Sunday, the Golden Eagle pitching staff performed admirably.
USM surrendered 12 runs in the three-game series, led by a Kirk McCarty pitching performance on Saturday that could set the standard for future pitching performances not just by him, but the staff as a whole.
“We lost 315 innings last year, we’re trying to figure this out,” Berry said. “With Hayden [Roberts] and Kirk McCarty, that’s a one-two that’s pretty good, either way you go. With the third spot, Cody [Carroll] is going to learn. I have a lot of confidence in that young man. He’s earned it.”
The runs were of minor concern this weekend as USM blasted the Huskies for 14 runs on Saturday scoring in every inning. That is not always the case, although.
Instead of having a continuous offensive showcasing, Southern Miss has a tendency to have offensive bursts. In the second game where Southern Miss scored nine runs, those came in just the third, sixth and seventh innings. On Sunday, the Golden Eagles racked up five runs in the third inning.
The wild nature of the scoring is something that Coach Berry has no other choice but to rely upon. His team had not produced a run first as the Huskies jumped out to a 7 – 0 lead early.
“I think today we weren’t satisfied in winning the series,” Berry said. “What we can’t do is get complacent. Even though we fell behind 7 – 0 today, I think it was a great test of our team to see what we were about.”
One takeaway form this series is the mental toughness of this team. It is very easy to be up and keep the pressure on a team when you are the more talented foe. It becomes a task when you face such a deficit and are able to fight the odds and climb back.
On Sunday, the Golden Eagles showed resiliency in being down 7 – 0 in the third, to come around and to make it a Golden Eagle victory 8 – 7. The Huskies exploded for all seven of their runs in two back-to-back innings during the second and third periods.
“I think this team never wavered,” said first baseman Dylan Burdeaux. “We never really put pressure on ourselves when we were down because we knew what our offense could do. They got up 7 – 0, nobody really blinked an eye. We knew we just had to get in our rhythm of our offense. We knew we could take off from there.”
This year’s version of the Golden Eagles will have their fair share of offensive prowess as this lineup is as highly as touted as one as Southern Miss may have ever seen. But, it will take a total team effort to beat teams of a higher caliber.
USM will get their first chance to flex their muscles against Alabama on Tuesday in Tuscaloosa, Ala. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.