The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Southern Miss baseball’s narrow but still doable path to the postseason

Dima Mixon

With just ten games left in the 2024 baseball regular season, Southern Miss baseball is in its worst position for an at-large since the 2015 season, the last time the team did not make it to the NCAA tournament.

After 45 games in the regular season, Southern Miss has a record of 28-17 following Tuesday’s victory over New Orleans.

When comparing the record after 45 games to those of the last two seasons at the same point, some argue for a favorable position. Yet, a closer analysis of the metrics suggests otherwise.

In 2022, after 45 games, the Golden Eagles had a 35-10 record. That team went on to win an NCAA Regional and lose the Super Regional against Ole Miss. Southern Miss hosted both of those tournament games due to its record and RPI.

In 2023, after 45 games, Southern Miss had a 30-15 record. That team went on to not host an NCAA Regional, but it won the Sun Belt Tournament and hosted an NCAA Super Regional against Tennessee. It came just one win short of reaching the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.

However, this season is different.

While the 2023 record and season are similar to this one in some respects, there is a big difference between the two squads.

Most thought the 23’ team should host a regional going into selection Monday because their RPI was in the low 20s and touching the high teens.

But this year’s RPI, going into the final three weekends of the season, is sitting at 47. It is not even close to where they need to host, but it is also about as on the bubble as they can get for an at-large spot in the NCAA tournament.

With a sub-100 offense and ranked 94th in the country in pitching with a team ERA of 5.35, Southern Miss is trying to navigate one of their worst statistical seasons in a couple of years…especially on the pitching side.

Despite this, Southern Miss still has very doable paths to the postseason that do not include a make-or-break Sun Belt Conference tournament.

Easily, the biggest opportunity lies this weekend when Coastal Carolina comes to the Pete. While the Chanticleers are on a shocking five-game lose streak, they will come into the Pete boasting a low 20s RPI. With a series win that could prove detrimental for Southern Miss to boost their RPI to feel safe heading into the conference tournament.

According to the “RPI Needs Report” from the college baseball analytics site Boyd’s World, Southern Miss cannot reach the top eight or the top 16. To reach the top 32, they say that Southern Miss would need to win every one of their remaining games.

The report says that Southern Miss can only afford one loss, preferably on the road, to stay within the top 45.

With the remaining schedule, it’s easy to see how Southern Miss could theoretically win eight or nine of the next ten games. Their toughest test lies this weekend against Coastal. But with a home game against Ole Miss and a home series against Texas State, Southern Miss no doubt has its work cut out for it.

The low 40s heading into the conference tournament would make them feel safe. However, if they are in the high 40s / low 50s they might need some paper bags on selection Monday.

Another thing USM fans will have to worry about is “stolen bids” during the conference tournament weekend.

Of course, all of this would be irrelevant if they were to win the Sun Belt Tournament Championship and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Plenty of baseball remains, and Southern Miss remains poised for postseason contention.

However, their margin of error is ultra-thin.

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