HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Southern Miss baseball team didn't come back as national champions, but they received a champion's welcome Wednesday.
The Golden Eagles were eliminated from the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday afternoon.
Athletic director Richard Giannini said USM has something to be proud of.
"They fought through adversity all year long and to be able to win at Georgia Tech, win at Florida, and get to Omaha," said Giannini. "I mean we were inches away from beating Texas, so it was just a wonderful experience."
Corky Palmer is retiring as head coach with 468 wins and 281 losses in his career. He said the c-w-s was the highlight of his coaching career.
"It's really remarkable when you look up in the stadium and you walk in and you've got Texas, Arizona State, and Cal State, and you see that Southern Miss flag; that's when it hits you that you're in a very special place," said Palmer.
Team captain Brian Dozier also ends his tenure as a Golden Eagle player. He said the experience was good while it lasted.
"Just to be able to come back to all these great fans is truly phenomenal," said Dozier. "Just to see all of the excitement in the baseball program and what it brings to Hattiesburg and I'm just blessed to be a part of it."
Players said this season was successful partially because of the USM fan base.
"That's always a special feeling when you are playing on the road and your fans are louder than the home team fans so that's helped us a lot," said outfielder Michael Ewing.
Despite the two series losses, most fans like Stephanie Boone are looking at the whole season as a big win.
"Win or lose it's great to have the support that they've got, it's great to watch Corky go out like this, it's great."