The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Southern Miss set to compete in the Knoxville Regional

JonBene’t Kepper

The Southern Miss baseball season will continue in Knoxville, Tennessee, with the Golden Eagles earning a No. 2 seed in the Knoxville Regional. The Golden Eagles secured a spot in the NCAA tournament by winning the Sun Belt Championship yesterday, and the committee awarded them by placing them in the No. 1 overall-seeded Tennessee Volunteers regional. 

“Excited to keep playing baseball,” Southern Miss head coach Christian Ostrander said. “Wherever it is you go at this stage it’s going to be a dogfight. It doesn’t matter if that’s the one seed, the 16th seed or whatever. We saw that last year. That was a hard-earned Regional last year.” 

Southern Miss (41–18) will play No. 3 seed Indiana (32-24-1) at noon CT on Friday at Lindsey Nelson Stadium on the campus of the University of Tennessee. Tennessee (50–11) holds the No. 1 national seed and the top seed at this regional and will play No. 4 seed Northern Kentucky (35–22), the winners of the Horizon League.

The Southern Miss coaches and players admittedly were caught off guard when the announcement came on the ESPN2 show on where their squad was heading. They admitted they had no idea where the Golden Eagles might head for their eighth straight NCAA tournament regional, and the surprise was palpable. 

“We were just like ‘Wow that was quick’,” first baseman Matthew Russo said. “Typically in the past couple years I have been a part of it we are like midway through [the show] and we still don’t know where we are going. It was cool, but it was very quick, 

With how things played out this season, something like this seemed likely to happen. No team in Louisiana, Mississippi, or Alabama hosted a regional, which led to many two-seeds within that region of states. 

Since no team from the same conference can be in a regional, Southern Miss went to an SEC Regional, ultimately the top seed in the tournament: Tennessee. 

“Nobody in the state of Louisiana or Mississippi or Alabama hosted a regional and so things are going to be a little different then, Ostrander said.

Everyone remembers what happened last season when these two squads played each other. Tennessee beat Southern Miss in a three-game series in the Hattiesburg Super Regional, denying former Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry a trip to Omaha, Nebraska, and the Men’s College World Series. 

“We got to play them last year, and we get to play them again in a regional, Southern miss pitcher Oldham said. “They were not too happy about coming to Hattiesburg so now we are going there. We’ll see what it’s like at their field.”

Tennessee is currently the No. 1 team in the D1 baseball rankings and has claimed that status for many weeks now. They are coming off of winning the SEC baseball tournament in Hoover. 

Southern Miss’s task this weekend will be tall to claim their third straight Regional win, and Ostrander knows his team will not back down. 

“They are not going to be intimidated, Ostrander said. “They are not going to be wowed. We played at the Pete, and it’s a pretty electric crowd and stuff. Whatever happens, there is not going to be anything that we haven’t seen. Our guys are going to keep their mindset of focusing on one pitch at a time, one inning at a time and one game at a time.”

“Tennessee, what a program; it’s awesome that we will get to go to their place. We are not looking ahead by any means. We are thinking about Indiana, and that’s all we are focused on.”

Southern Miss opens the tournament against Indiana on Friday, with the first pitch at noon CT. 

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