The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


The voice of and for USM students


Here are the 12 players that will make or break Southern Miss’s trip to Knoxville and a prediction.

Dima Mixon

KNOXVILLE, TN – Southern Miss will make their eighth straight appearance in the NCAA tournament this weekend at the Knoxville Regional paired with the No. 1 overall seed. The Golden Eagles get the Indiana Hoosiers to start the tournament, and with a win there, it could set up a Super Regional rematch with Tennessee. 

Southern Miss is currently playing its hottest baseball of the season, winning 14 of its last 15 games, and remains one of the hottest teams in the tournament. 

Here are 12 players who will be vital to the Golden Eagles if they are to pull the biggest upset of college baseball and take down the top-ranked Volunteers: 

12. Carson Paetow

Jackson Kennedy

While Carson Paetow’s status remains up in the air for the weekend, I feel that even if he is in the lineup, he will not be near 100%. But having him in right field and having his arm strength out there will be significant for the Golden Eagles. He is a key veteran piece with much postseason experience in the lineup. 

Southern Miss head coach Christian Ostrander said he remains “day-to-day.”  The “active roster” is due at 4:00 PM Thursday, which was yesterday. 

Ostrander said that Paetow did not practice on Tuesday. 

11. Billy Oldham

Dima Mixon

Billy Oldham will start the Regional on the mound for the Golden Eagles against Indiana. Southern Miss will need him to earn the win and deliver a longer extended pitching performance that will put USM in the 1-0 winner’s bracket game. 

Oldham’s having a seven or eight-inning affair on Friday against the Hoosiers and earning a win is crucial to starting the regional 1-0 and preserving the bullpen. 

10. Lawson Odom / Tucker Stockman

Dima Mixon

Catcher has been an issue throughout the season, and while it has gotten better, it remains a big question heading into the regional. Southern Miss cannot afford mental errors of pass balls leading to runs or teams running the bases all over them. 

It is not just a defensive aspect; Southern Miss will also need Odom and Stockman’s bats to stay hot. Both are hitting well right now; it could be big for the bottom lineup if that continues. 

9. Nick Monistere

Dima Mixon

If Carson Paetow can’t go, Monistere’s glove in right field will be crucial. He played well in the Sun Belt tournament, and I can only think of one time when he misjudged a ball. It really felt like Paetow was out there. 

Monistere’s bat will also have to continue to stay hot. He struggled significantly earlier this season and has been pretty good ever since. They need him in the back half of the lineup to be reliable. 

8. Josh Och

Southern Miss in the postseason has always had a pitcher rise to the challenge to deliver a performance on the mound that could make or break the tournament. Josh Och could present that exact scenario. 

Och has been stellar out of the pen in recent weeks, including shutting down Troy in the ninth inning in the winner’s bracket game on Thursday of the conference tournament. Ostrander could extend Och in a hypothetical Sunday/Monday game, which could be vital to Southern Miss’s chances of winning the regional. 

7. Kros Sivley

Dima Mixon

Another guy Southern Miss needs to be good at is Kros Sivley. He has to give them one of the best outings of the year through four or five innings if Southern Miss wants a chance to get out of the Regional. Especially if Sivley is their third starter, he has to get them nine to twelve outs out of the gate to help the backend of the pen. 

Sivley shoved against Texas State, throwing four innings and allowed just one hit. But he struggled in the starting role against Appalachian State in the tournament, allowing five hits and five earned runs in just two innings of work. He did not allow a run last season against Tennessee, and they have to hope he can replicate that in some way this weekend.

6. Matthew Russo

Dima Mixon

In the last 16 games, Southern Miss’s batting average is .338, compared to its season average of .295, and it is averaging 7.7 runs per game. That is being elevated by the streak of Matthew Russo, who Southern Miss will need to be on his top game this weekend in Knoxville. 

Russo delivered two clutch hits last weekend in the Sun Belt tournament, one in the Troy game and the other in the Championship game. Can he replicate that? Southern Miss should be expecting nothing less. 

5. Niko Mazza

Dima Mixon

Niko Mazza is super important because if Southern Miss takes care of business with Indiana, he will likely pitch against Tennessee on Saturday night’s 1-0 game. 

Mazza has looked really good at times and really bad at times. I don’t really know which version of Mazza USM will get on Saturday, but it no doubt better be the “really good” version—the one that pitched very well against Tennessee last season and has shown the ability to do that again this season. 

Southern Miss will need Mazza to pitch at least six innings if it wants to have a chance to win the Regional and preserve its arms. 

4. Slade Wilks

Dima Mixon


Southern Miss has yet to have this version of Slade Wilks in the postseason. This is precisely the hot streak you want from a guy like Wilks during this time of the year. While not having the best Sun Belt tournament, he still had a vital piece or hit in each of the games last weekend, and the Golden Eagles will need that and then some if they want a chance. 

Wilks must be a monster at the dish and hit when needed. Also, USM needs more home runs from him. He has hit more on the road this season than at Pete Taylor Park. 

3. Ozzie Pratt

Dima Mixon

Ozzie Pratt hit a lull in the Sun Belt tournament when his 11-game multi-hit streak got snapped and started the tournament 0-10. This absolutely cannot happen this weekend in Knoxville. Dalton McIntyre and Ozzie Pratt must be consistently on base for the three, four, and five-hole hitters to get them in. 

Pratt’s at-bats are so important, which is why he is so far up on this list. They need pre-SBC tournament Pratt, not SBC tournament Pratt, to win this tournament. 

2. Dalton McIntyre

Dima Mixon

Dalton McIntyre is easily one of the most important pieces on the team for Southern Miss to win this weekend in Knoxville. You saw his importance to the Golden Eagle’s chances in Montgomery. He came through with big hit after big hit to lead Southern Miss to their second straight Sun Belt title game. 

It’s not just his offense but also what he can do in center field. Sometimes sure doubles turn into outs due to McIntyre’s speed out there. With Tennessee’s ballpark playing a little small, McIntyre’s defense might be crucial to Southern Miss’s chances. 

But his bat is equally important. The Golden Eagles are 27-4 when Dalton McIntyre scores at least once in a game.

1. Colby Allen 

Dima Mixon


The MVP of the conference tournament, Colby Allen, has a chance to be the MVP of the Knoxville Regional if he comes in and does what he has done all season: Shut down teams. Allen’s resurgence over the back half of the season has been remarkable, becoming a surefire arm to go to when the game is tight. 

Southern Miss will not blow out Tennessee; it will be a very tight game if USM is in it. If they lead with the Volunteers up to bat trying to tie, Allen had better be on his A game, or you can forget a Super Regional. Southern Miss might extend him a little in closer games to help the backend of the bullpen. For example, when he got the win over Alabama (3/12) with 3.1 IP and a career-high six strikeouts. 




Prediction: I would have picked Southern Miss to win any other Regional than the top three seeds in the tournament, so it is unfortunate that they were sent to Knoxville. That said, Southern Miss has a perfect chance to break through and upset Tennessee. They have the team and the talent to do that. But I think that to do it, they would have to start 2-0, something that they haven’t done since 2017. Tennessee is just too much for this young team to handle, unfortunately. I have Southern Miss going 2-2, ending the season again falling short of Omaha.

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