HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Every spring, University of Southern Mississippi coach Scott Berry sets goals for his team to accomplish on the diamond: Conference USA championships, NCAA Regional appearances, College World Series trips.
This year, Berry has added another to the list: a new mark in season ticket sales.
Berry, who is heading into his eighth season at the Golden Eagles' helm, said the top season-ticket total came in 2009, when 1,448 season tickets were sold prior to USM's run to its sole CWS appearance.
"When you think about it, it's kind of weird because it was the year we went to Omaha, not the year after," Berry said. "But that's where we are."
For years, the Golden Eagles annually have ranked among the top 25 nationally in attendance at Taylor Park, and season tickets play a huge role in those numbers.
The NCAA uses tickets sold/distributed to determine attendance figures, "so even if you're not at every game, it's still big for us," Berry said. "We're top 25 in attendance every year, so that's big for us, people coming to Pete Taylor Park and experiencing a big crowd and what a great environment it is, a lot of excitement."
Those numbers not only serve as a recruiting tool for the program, but Berry said the games also bring people to Hattiesburg.
"I want to talk to them about how we can help their businesses by bringing people to Hattiesburg and to this park," he said. "My goal is to bring enough attention to set the all-time high for that, target the business community, and purchase season tickets to hand out to their employees as incentives, nice incentive gestures or some sort of lottery for any particular week," Berry said.
Last year, USM sold 1,109 season tickets.
"There shouldn't be any reason that from '09 to now, we're down 300," Berry said. "I want to set a record. If we sold 1,448, then I want to sell 1,500 this year. Why can't we do that?"
USM opens the season at 4 p.m. on Feb. 17, hosting Northeastern University at Taylor Park.
For more information on season tickets, call the USM Baseball Office at (601) 266-6542 or the USM Ticket Office at (601) 266-5418.