GULFPORT, Miss. (WDAM) - Southern Miss knew the stakes when it entered the Conference USA tournament on Wednesday.
With an RPI ranking of 56, the Golden Eagles figured a tournament victory is their only path to a fourth straight NCAA regional.
Two wins in two days earned USM a practice day on Friday. The Eagles practiced at Gulfport High School in preparation for a rematch with Rice on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Practicing on the field of his high school alma mater, junior pitcher Alex Nelms recognized how crucial the day of rest is with a limited number of arms in the bullpen heading into the weekend.
“Our mentality is waves crash on the shore," Nelms said. "I’m a reliever so one guy comes out, I can come in, do my job, pick him up. Guys on base, get 'em out of a jam, pick them up for the team. Just do whatever it takes to win. We’ve brought some good energy so far this tournament, and the two wins just carries that over farther in the next two days. Obviously, a day of rest, gets everybody’s legs underneath them. Everybody well-rested for the next two days is going to be huge for us.”
“We like to have fun down here," said USM junior second-baseman Matt Guidry, an Oak Grove grad. "Biloxi’s always awesome to us. We really enjoy the atmosphere that our fans bring and we know that our backs are against the wall, we know what’s at stake. The more added pressure that we have, the more we start to press and we’re really not trying to think about that. We’re just trying to take it one game at a time and just enjoying the time that we have with each other.”