Thirty-one automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament and that ice bath dogpile was USM’s ticket to the big dance. But, for all that was guaranteed, Selection Monday would turn out to be a bit of a surprise for the Natural State bound Golden Eagles.
Southern Miss is heading to the Fayetteville Regional as a two seed, hosted by the number five national seed Arkansas. The Black and Gold will open up with three seed Dallas Baptist while the Razorbacks draw four-seed Oral Roberts.
A little bit of a shock this morning for the watch party at Buffalo Wild Wings in Hattiesburg, where the C-USA Tournament champs might have been expecting a spot in the Oxford Regional or perhaps a repeat of 2016 with a return trip to Tallahassee. USM Pitcher Walker Powell said, “Honestly, that was the last place I expected them to send us but I’m happy they did. I thought we would probably go to like Tallahassee or Texas or one of those places, but I’m ready. I’m excited that we’re going back to Fayetteville.”
USM Center fielder Matt Wallner said, “I think it’s exciting. I kind of had a feeling we weren’t going to end up in Oxford, but didn’t necessarily expect Arkansas. But I’ve heard that the ball flies a little bit there, so that’s exciting for us. It’s always a place we want to go, so I’m looking forward to that. Maybe a little BP, have some fun there and see what happens.”
USM Shortstop Leemarcus Boyd said, “Honestly, it didn’t matter where we were going because we’re after the same goal as wherever we went. But to know that we’re going there, we really feel good about it and we’re ready to take on the task ahead of us.”
USM and Dallas Baptist will play the late game on Friday with first pitch set for 7 p.m. on ESPN3.