Final thoughts and predictions for the Auburn Regional

AUBURN, Ala – The No. 2 seeded Southern Miss Golden Eagles (41-17) open the NCAA tournament today at 1 PM CT with a matchup against Samford (36-23). Today will begin the farewell journey for Golden Eagle head coach Scott Berry, who announced he would retire earlier this month at the end of the season. Berry’s first-ever regional with his team as a head coach was in Auburn, Alabama, in 2010, and nothing could be more on the script than his last NCAA regional being in Auburn this season. 

“The first regional I went to as a head coach was 2010, so we’re kind of bookending this thing in my career in all honesty.” Berry said jokingly in a press conference on Wednesday. 

However, Berry knows it; even the team knows it. No matter what comes throughout this postseason, it is all for him. The Golden Eagles have won 19 of their last 21 games, including this past weekend, where they won the Sun Belt title in the first league tournament championship since 2019. 

Southern Miss needs a minimum of three wins to get out of this region if all goes smoothly, but with the field in the Auburn Regional, that will be a tall task. USM gets No. 3 seed Samford right out of the gate. The game features a heavyweight matchup with pitchers in USM’s Tanner Hall and Samford’s Jacob Cravy. 

Hall was named a first-team all-American, posted a 12-3 record, and was voted pitcher of the year in the Sun Belt conference. Cravy is 9-2 with a 3.19 ERA and was voted the top arm in the Bulldog’s respective conference. 

This is the tenth time in the team’s history that they will meet on the diamond. 

Here are our final predictions for the Auburn Regional:

Jackson Kennedy, SM2; Well, it is that time of the year, and what a time it is. With Southern Miss ranked ahead of 5 regional hosts, the frustration was palpable in every player and coach meeting with the media this week. I firmly believe Scott Berry’s Golden Eagles will win the Auburn Regional this weekend, so let me tell you why. On Friday, the Eagles will match up against Samford, a well-pitching-hard-hitting ball club, but they have yet to face juggernauts like Southern Miss this season. They should be in the clear as long as USM’s veteran lineup can chase away Samford’s starter early. Samford’s Friday night ace has a very impressive stat line, but their bullpen…not so much. With a team ERA of 6.00, Southern Miss should pull away with a win. On Saturday, the boys in black and gold will face off against the winner between Auburn and Penn, and it will most likely be Auburn. While Auburn has played well down the stretch, it follows the same theme Samford and even Penn follow statistically: fantastic starters but struggling bullpens. When Dima Mixon and I looked over what every team’s pitching staff looked like, we were surprised to see that no team had an overly impressive bullpen. With how well the Golden Eagles have sorted themselves out these last few weeks, especially in the bullpen, I am confident Southern Miss can win this regional (as long as they keep hitting the ball). However, do not expect these wins to come early. With how this is shaping out, Southern Miss could likely win games in the 7th, eighth, or ninth innings, carrying on the well-deserved nickname of the Cardiac Eags. Pick: USM

Dima Mixon, SM2: All week, I have gone back and forth on who would win this regional, and I have yet to figure it out. Now that it is Thursday and our picks are due, here are my final thoughts and, yes…my prediction. I have been thinking a lot lately about this baseball team and the wild ride it has been this season. At the beginning of the year, wondering if they would even reach 40 wins, and then toward the end of the year, wondering if they would lose again. But here they are, Scott Berry’s boys, for one more shot to send Berry to eastern Nebraska. I don’t know if Southern Miss is better than Auburn, but want I do know is that they have a lot more to play for. I don’t know if Southern Miss can take care of business and beat Samford, but I do know that they have more to play for. I think you are going to see a whole other side of these Eagles that we have not seen all season. You’ll see a team rising up and fighting to send their legendary head coach outright. Will they start it by doing something that has not been done since 2009? Win an away regional? I think so. Pack your bags, get ready to head to Clemson. Pick: USM