While there are new faces on the 2019 Southern Miss baseball schedule, the team will also play many familiar opponents again this season, including in-state, regional and conference rivals.
One of the new teams on this season’s schedule is season-opening opponent Purdue. The Boilermakers finished 2018 with a 38-21 overall record and made an appearance in the regional at Chapel Hill, where they were eliminated by Houston. This season, Purdue sports a newer, younger squad, with 12 true freshmen and three redshirt freshmen on the squad.
The three-game Purdue series is followed by a home midweek matchup with Troy. The Trojans were also a postseason team in 2018, as they sported a 42-21 overall record and reached the Athens Regional in the postseason.
One of the most anticipated series of the season for the Golden Eagles is the second weekend series of the season for the team. Southern Miss will travel to Starkville, Miss., for a series against Mississippi State. Last season, the Golden Eagles completed a season-opening three-game sweep of the Bulldogs at Pete Taylor Park. However, the Bulldogs rebounded during the season and advanced to the College World Series, where they were eliminated by eventual national champion Oregon State.
Another in-state rival that Southern Miss will face again in 2019 is Ole Miss. The two programs squared off on two different occasions last season, with Ole Miss winning both games by scores of 7-6 and 11-3. This year, the Golden Eagles will look for revenge in two contests against the Rebels. The two teams first meet on April 9 in a neutral-site matchup at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss., and then again at Pete Taylor Park on May 1.
South Alabama is on the schedule once again, and the Jaguars are slated to travel to Hattiesburg for a single midweek game on April 2. Southern Miss played two games last season against the Jaguars and split the season series, losing 10-9 on the road and winning 5-3 at home later in the 2018 season.
Another 2018 postseason team the Golden Eagles will face is Gonzaga University. Gonzaga appeared in the Minneapolis Regional, where they were eliminated by UCLA. The Bulldogs finished 2018 with a 33-24 record and could give the Golden Eagles a challenge in the three-game series between the two teams. Southern Miss will also host Worcester, Mass.-based Holy Cross March 8-10. The Crusaders finished 2018 with an 18-27 record.
Southern Miss also has a slate of midweek non-conference games against Louisiana-based schools in February, March and April. The Golden Eagles play New Orleans on Feb. 26, Southern on March 5, Louisiana-Lafayette on March 13 and April 23, Louisiana Monroe on March 19 and Nicholls State on March 26.
Out of those teams, Louisiana-Lafayette notably finished with a 34-21 record last season and played a two-game series against Southern Miss in 2018. The Golden Eagles and Ragin’ Cajuns split the series 1-1, with Southern Miss winning game one 9-8 and Louisiana Lafayette taking game two by a score of 7-4.
Conference USA play is where Southern Miss saw its highest levels of success last season. The 2018 squad finished with a 23-6 record in C-USA and ended as not only the C-USA tournament champions, but also the C-USA regular season champions as well.
This year Southern Miss opens conference play on the road against Louisiana Tech March 15-17. The Bulldogs won two out of three games at Pete Taylor Park when the two teams met last season, and the Bulldogs finished conference play with a 21-9 record, second only to Southern Miss. LA Tech is one of the key conference series to follow closely this season, as the Bulldogs could present a challenge to Southern Miss once more.
In addition to the Louisiana Tech series, Southern Miss will go on the road to play C-USA opponents UTSA, Florida International, Middle Tennessee and Rice. Heading to Hattiesburg for conference play this season are Old Dominion, Marshall, Charlotte, Florida Atlantic and UAB.
If Southern Miss can get multiple wins over the high caliber opponents on its schedule, especially series wins, then it will help the team greatly in terms of RPI at the end of the season. In conference play, the team must finish with a similar or better record than 2018’s record in order to have a shot at hosting a regional in 2019.