As Southern Miss finished its non-conference series on March 21, the team now prepares to polish its strengths and work on its weaknesses heading into conference play.
In many ways, the Golden Eagles’ 12-6 record going into the 2021 postseason parallels the 12-4 start it had before the spread of COVID-19 canceled last season.
“I’ve seen a lot of similarities as I saw from the prior year,” Head Coach Scott Berry said about his team. “Of course, when that [season] was shut down, it was in the books, and this one opened up new stories to be written.”
Southern Miss concluded its non-conference series slate with a sweep against Missouri State, led by strong performances from the bullpen, an area in which the team is perhaps most confident in.
After the second game against Missouri State, Berry said that his team’s pitching performances can make “any run deficit” for opponents hard to overcome. Like last season, Southern Miss’s bullpen ranks near the top of the C-USA leaderboards in pitching statistics. The team currently has the most strikeouts in the conference.
However, the Golden Eagles’ inconsistencies at-bat this season has been a clear weakness. The Golden Eagles’ .208% batting average ranks last in Conference USA, as does almost every other hitting statistic.
“Offensively, we know the struggles there, but we’re continuing to work on that. We can only get better, and I feel like that we will get better,” Berry said.
The team only flashed its max hitting potential throughout the season, notching 13 hits against Louisiana-Lafayette and three home runs versus the University of Connecticut.
Since the beginning of this season, outfielder Reed Trimble has emerged as one of the team’s top hitters. Trimble recorded a two-RBI triple in the final game against Missouri State. He now leads the team with 19 hits and five home runs this season.
“I feel like we still have a ways to go, especially hitting,” Trimble said. “We’ve got some really talented hitters. We’re still just trying to find our swing, and I think it’s going to click sooner than later for us.”
Sophomore Charlie Fischer, who leads the team with a .341% batting average, described the team’s philosophy of improving at-bat a “day by day” process.
“We have faith in everybody in this lineup,” Fischer said. “I think earlier in the year right away, we were pressing a little bit, and I say that for everybody.”
The Golden Eagles will try to fix its hitting inconsistencies as it prepares to start its conference slate against one of the top teams in the conference, Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 23 in the nation by D1Baseball after it swept Tulane last weekend. The team sits on a five-game winning streak, including wins over Southeastern Conference opponents Ole Miss and Arkansas.
“They are playing well, they have a lot of confidence and a lot of older guys,” Berry said. “They remind me of some of the teams that we’ve had here the past few years.”
Southern Miss will play Louisiana Tech in a four-game series at Pete Taylor Park, starting Friday, March 26.
Fischer said that he believes the team is starting to improve hitting by relying on each other and focusing on what each hitter can do for the team every time at-bat. It gives him hope for the games to come.
“I think just knowing that we have each other’s backs, and [if] we keep that goal, I think we can be a pretty good offense,” Fischer said.