The Golden Eagles are prepping to host for the Conference USA tournament starting on Wednesday, May 25. Southern Miss will play Old Dominion first in the tournament on May 25 at 4 p.m.
“It’s certainly a pleasure to have it here,” said coach Scott Berry. “We’re used to the surroundings and that’s an advantage for us.”
Southern Miss comes into this tournament after dropping a series against Florida International this past weekend in Miami, Florida. The Golden Eagles were swept that past series losing 6-5, 5-2 and 13-8 in three games.
The FIU series was not the most preferable way to end the season, but the Golden Eagles are using it as motivation to bounce back in the tournament.
“We’ve talked a lot about attitudes and what it takes,” Berry said. “What happened in FIU, we have to let it go.”
The only certainty so far in this tournament is that Cord Cockrell will be the first pitcher on the mound for Southern Miss. Cockrell pitched in the first game against FIU after being injured in a game against Western Kentucky nearly a month ago and missing a start. So far this season, he has recorded a 7-1 record with a 3.39 ERA.
Cockrell’s performance on the mound will be paramount to the early success for the Golden Eagles in the C-USA tournament. He was under a pitching count against FIU and only pitched three innings of action.
“It’s a lot on how he’s feeling,” Berry said. “We’ll use him the best way he can, in the most efficient way.”
Timely pitching and efficient defense will guide Southern Miss to victory in this tournament. Specifically against FIU, the Golden Eagles gave up a combined 24 runs in only three games. With those totals against a team that allows the fifth-most runs in the league, the Golden Eagles could have matched, if not beaten the totals that the Panthers recorded with an efficient offensive output.
“We’ve shown all year that we’re one of the top teams in the conference and definitely offensively, we’re one of the best teams in the conference,” said first baseman Tim Lynch. “If we just keep that mindset and have that confidence about us, we can win this tournament. You have to take it game-by-game, pitch by pitch and inning by inning.”
The offense should not be a problem with Southern Miss leading in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. Also, the team is second in C-USA in home runs with 33 and tied for fourth with hits.
Offensively, this team can compete with any team in the tournament. When the offense has a showing like so against FIU, it should come away with wins — even against stiff competition.
“This has been a very, very strong league from top to bottom,” Berry said. “All teams here are trying to win [the] conference tournament. All teams that are here in this tournament are very quality teams.”
With a win against Old Dominion, Southern Miss will face the winner between FIU-Marshall. If USM loses, they wil face the loser of such game.
Southern Miss will start their play in the C-USA tournament on Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Old Dominion.