#25 Southern Miss Baseball Preview

Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles

Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #2 C-USA
Southern Miss College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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The Golden Eagles had a respectable season last year, but one that left a bitter taste in their mouth, as they failed to qualify for the NCAA tournament. This season they are working hard to make sure that will change. This year’s squad is locked, loaded, dangerous and hungry.

2012: 32-24, 14-10
2012 Postseason: None
Coach: Scott Berry

Field Players:
This lineup will be paced by a pair of powerful hitters. Left handed slugger Mason Robbins is a dominate hitter.  A season ago the outfielder slugged three homeruns, drove in 38 runs and hit an impressive .330 in 54 appearances, 50 being starts. His 101 total bases and .470 slugging percentage were team highs. He also collected 71 hits, second best on the squad. This season he will be relied upon to be the most productive hitter in the lineup once again. Providing some insurance for the Golden Eagles is infielder slugger Blake Brown. Last year he started in 54 games and hit .271. He belted six homeruns and plated 41 runners, both team highs. If runners are able to get on base ahead of him he will cause damage.

The Golden Eagles are led by their veteran and ace, right handed senior Andrew Pierce. As a junior, Pierce dominated opposing batters with regularity. He owned a frighteningly low 1.99 ERA in his 14 starts. He notched two complete games, one being a shutout. In 99.1 innings of work, a team high, he rang up a team high 96 batters to go along with just 16 free passes. That type of strikeout to walk ratio is elite and makes his future appear even brighter. He posted a 7-4 overall record, also leading the team. His all-around dominance earned him a spot as a preseason third team All-American. This season he will look to guide the Golden Eagles into the NCAA tournament and beyond.

Who to Watch:
As a freshman, catcher Austin Roussel quickly proved his worth to Southern Miss. He played in 31 games, making 16 starts for them. However his .338 batting average indicates he will earn more playing time this season. With a year of seasoning and adjusting to the college level of pitching and game calling, the young backstop should be even better in his expanded role. If he improves at the rate coaches and teammates expect him to, he could be a difference maker for this lineup.

Final Projection:
Southern Miss should once again be fighting for the top spot in Conference USA. They have a dangerous lineup, especially with the speed of infielder Michael Sterling, whose game should be improved this season. Their rotation has depth and star power, which coupled with a great closer in Bradley Roney, makes the pitching staff a very good one. This team should make some strides topping last season’s success and qualify for the NCAA tournament. Once there, anything can happen, especially when Andrew Pierce toes the rubber.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Mason Robbins, OF, 215
Hits: Mason Robbins, OF, 71
Home Runs: Blake Brown, IF, 6
RBIs: Blake Brown, IF, 41
Runs: Michael Sterling, IF, 39
Stolen Bases: Michael Sterling, IF, 11

Wins: Andrew Pierce, RHP, 7
Innings: Andrew Pierce, RHP, 99.1
Strikeouts: Andrew Pierce, RHP, 96
Saves: Bradley Roney, RHP, 11


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