Omaha or Bust: Southern Miss Baseball Media Day 2017
Once in a lifetime moments are just that. There’s no recreating those iconic shots, buzzer beaters, and walk-offs. Or in USM’s case, that game winning double relay on championship Sunday at the Pete. More than eight months later, that play is still a defining moment for Southern Miss baseball, but it’s not the end all be all in terms of expectations for 2017.
A 3-2 win over Rice by virtue of the ultra-rare 8-6-3-2 double relay. The result was a regional dog pile for those big game Eagles, ending their four year absence from the NCAA tournament. Southern Miss pitcher Kirk McCarty said, “Absolutely, I mean you’re not going to beat last year’s finish here at the Pete Taylor Park in that conference tournament.”
CUSA Tournament MVP Daniel Keating said, “That conference tournament was just such a special weekend and ending with that last play I don’t think it can get much better than that.”
Oh, but it can. Maybe not in the magic at the Pete kind of way, but remember the Black and Gold went on to lose two of their last three games at the Tallahassee Regional. This year, anything short of the College World Series is a bust. Southern Miss third baseman Taylor Braley said, “I’m really not looking towards the conference championship or regional or super regional. I mean, my main goal is getting to Omaha and winning Omaha.”
Southern Miss first baseman Dylan Burdeaux said, “I think we’ve got a chance to go a long way with this team. Of course we want to win the regular season title and the conference championship, but our goal with this team is a way, way further than that. We want to be one of those last eight teams standing in Omaha and have a chance to play for a national championship.”
First things first though. To do that, USM is going to have to rely on Coach Berry’s favorite motto: start fast, finish strong. Southern Miss head baseball Coach Scott Berry said “The focus needs to be on playing good, consistent baseball from start to finish. If we can do that we’ll take care of our business in conference and then I feel like that we’ll be rewarded in the end with an opportunity to be one of the 64 vying for the final eight in Omaha.”
Southern Miss infielder Tracey Hadley said “Our main goal is to win, get better every day. You win a championship, a conference championship and then you go to a regional and then super regional. Got to take it one step at a time, can’t get ahead of yourself.”
That’s how the Golden Eagles got back to the post-season this year. This time, they appear ready to sharpen the talons and do a job.
In 2016, Southern Miss also posted its first 40 win season since 2010 and its first Conference USA championship since 2009.
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