Scott Berry and Corky Palmer coached together for 15 years. Courtesy: WDAM
Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry led the Golden Eagles to a school-record 50 wins in 2017. Courtesy: WDAM
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -
After nine years as an assistant and eight as a head coach, Scott Berry has been ingrained in Southern Miss baseball for 17 years.
Graduating from Southwest Missouri State University in 1989, Berry began his Mississippi coaching career in 1991 at Meridian Community College as an assistant under Corky Palmer. Palmer hired Berry at Meridian after recommendations from two USM assistant coaches.
"Some of the assistant coaches, Doug Lambeth was from up that way and worked with [former USM coach] Hill Denson," Palmer said. "[Lambeth] went to the same junior college [Crowder College] as Scott. And Charlie Gray, another [USM] assistant, had known him. And they're the ones that recommended him to me to look at."
After six years under Palmer at Meridian, Berry took over as the head coach from 1997-2000 as Palmer joined Hill Denson's staff at Southern Miss.
In his four seasons as head coach of Meridian, Berry led the Eagles to two 50-win campaigns and two Junior College World Series. Berry also coached Cliff Lee at Meridian, who went on to win the 2008 American League Cy Young Award.
In 2001, Berry rejoined Palmer as an assistant at Southern Miss.
"I got to Southern, it took me four years to pry [Berry] away [from Meridian]," Palmer said. "I finally got him to come with me. It turned pretty quick when we got him. He and I always just connected in our beliefs on baseball and it was just a good fit."
With Palmer and Berry side-by-side, the Golden Eagles advanced to their first College World Series in 2009. Palmer retired at the end of the season and on May 9, 2009, Berry was named USM's new head coach.
In eight seasons, Berry has led the Southern Miss to three Conference USA regular-season titles, two C-USA tournament titles and four NCAA tournament regionals. Berry became the quickest USM coach to reach 225 career wins last season.
The two-time C-USA Coach of the Year led the Golden Eagles to a school-record 50 wins in 2017 and their first NCAA regional host since 2003. Not long after Southern Miss fell to Mississippi State in the Hattiesburg regional this season, Berry heard from his mentor Palmer.
"It was good to hear it from the old wizard that's been around the block a few times," Berry said. "We as coaches, we like to say that's baseball. That's basically what [Palmer] told me: 'That's baseball.' He was reassuring that everything that we did was good."
Between Meridian and Southern Miss, Palmer and Berry coached together for 15 seasons. Although it's been eight years since they've shared the same dugout, their relationship hasn't much changed.
"We have a unique relationship," Palmer said. "Not that he worked with me as an assistant, we're best friends. That sometimes doesn't happen. He and I our close and it's not just about baseball. I think of him like another brother and I feel like he thinks of me like that. [We're] very close."