Although the Southern Miss’ baseball team will be bringing back a fairly large amount of experience with five returning starters in fielding positions, there still remain questions to be answered about who will take over the shortstop and third base duties.
Former Golden Eagle Luke Reynolds and LeeMarcus Boyd performed at a tremendously high level as defenders over the course of their collegiate careers, and the battle has now begun to determine who will fill their shoes on the left side of the infield as the team approaches the opening of a brand new season.
As of late, senior Storme Cooper looks to be the leading option to start at shortstop entering the start of the season. Cooper brings a vast amount of experience back to the infield, having played in 141 games and making 72 starts through his first three years on the Southern Miss roster. Cooper started at second base during his freshman and sophomore campaigns. As a junior he saw playing time in 35 games and earned a .978 fielding percentage, committing only one error in 45 fielding opportunities.
Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry feels confident that Cooper’s experience will help make for a smooth transition into the post-Boyd era. “Storme played a very good shortstop this fall,” said Berry. “He’s very versatile. We can move him from short to third and other positions.”
Another viable option at shortstop will be true freshman Will McGillis, son of former Southern Miss athletic director Bill McGillis. The Presbyterian Christian School graduate put together a rather impressive list of high school baseball accolades, including three consecutive years of being voted onto the all-district team and a spot on the Clarion Ledger’s Top 40 Seniors list in 2018.
Through just a few months of working with him, Berry is really optimistic about his potential with the team as a big-time contributor both offensively and defensively right out of the gate as a freshman. Taking over Reynolds’ spot at third base currently looks to be true freshman Danny Lynch, younger brother of the ever-so-memorable Golden Eagles first baseman, Tim Lynch, who was drafted in the ninth round by the Yankees in 2016. The 6 feet, 2 inches 225-pound newcomer has shown early signs of poise beyond his years and the potential to make great contributions early in his career, just as his older brother did.
“[Lynch] knows how to play the game,” said Berry. “[He is] very competitive, focused on what he does. Comes out and practices like he’s going to play. The young man has been really impressive in the fall camp and moving into the spring.”
Though replacing such talented players in a lineup is always challenging, Berry and his staff feel confident their players will step up to the task and play admirably. Whether it is the experienced glove of Cooper or the clear potential of Lynch and McGillis, the Golden Eagles will have a wealthy bed of options to fill the left infield gap and shore up a solid defensive lineup for Southern Miss in 2019.