Southern Miss baseball picked to win Conference USA – WXXV News 25

If this is to be USM’s last year as a part of Conference USA, the Southern Miss baseball program has the chance to go out with a bang.

Not only are the Golden Eagles hosting the C-USA Tournament in May, they’re now the favorite to win the regular season crown, according to the league’s pre-season poll.

The Black and Gold received six of the 12 first place votes, four more than any other school.

But before the hype train leaves for Hattiesburg, USM still facing a lot of questions when it comes to its pitching staff.

Last season, Southern Miss led the league in ERA, strikeouts, and batting average against, but are now without the likes of Hunter Stanley, Walker Powell, and Ryan Och, their top three in terms of ERA, all currently trying their hand in the minor league baseball ranks. USM Head Baseball Coach Scott Berry said, “You mention those two guys, Hunter and Walker. One thing about them is that they gave you a feeling or gave you a belief that because of their experience that they have had, a really good feeling in going out and winning a baseball game. They have tremendous stuff, but they had been tested prior to last year and really, it’s showing that they could handle it and weather it and so until that happens, I don’t know – there’s still that uncertainty. We’ve got a lot of guys that we feel like could be candidates to take their role. They’re unproven in that fact, so obviously there’s that uncertainty. There’s that anxiety a little bit about how will they handle it, but on the same hand, they’re here for a reason.”

Southern Miss leads off its 2022 campaign with a three-game home series against North Alabama, game one first pitch set for 4 p.m. Friday.

Southern Miss landing four on the All Conference-USA pre-season team, starting with the bats: infielder Danny Lynch, outfielder Gabe Montenegro, designated hitter Charlie Fischer, as well as starting pitcher Ben Etheridge, who finished the 2021 season with the next best ERA behind Stanley, Powell, and Och.