BILOXI, Miss. (WDAM) - For the first time in a long time, Southern Miss enters the Conference USA tournament as an underdog.
The two-time defending regular season conference champions relinquished their title to Florida Atlantic. The Golden Eagles enter the C-USA tourney as a No. 2 seed. Coach Scott Berry and company recognize that they’ll likely need to win the tournament in order to advance to a fourth straight Regional. With an RPI of 56, Berry reminds the Eagles that the 2009 College World Series team had an RPI of 57 entering postseason play.
"There's an expectation in our program that we have set over the years and that’s to win the regular season title or win a conference tournament title,” Berry said. “And I don’t see why there should not be that expectation because that's been the tradition of our program here of late."
"The season's big but this is the big time of the year,” said USM junior outfielder Matt Wallner. “Only one that's guaranteed to get in is the winner. I’m ready to go. I’m probably the most excited I’ve ever been walking in here because it’s something we’ve got to prove and show everyone what Southern Miss is all about again."
Walker Powell (6-2) mans the mound for USM while C-USA pitcher of the year Matt Canterino (6-5) starts for the Owls. First pitch is set for 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday at MGM Park in Biloxi.
“We’re going to face a terrific arm that Rice is throwing and we’ve got our work cut out for us,” said USM hitting coach Chad Caillet. “We’ve got to grind it out, get to that bullpen and find a way to win the game in the sixth, seventh, eighth inning.”