HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - It’s been a few weeks since the University of Southern Mississippi saw the curtain drop on its 2019 baseball season.
Now, USM coach Scott Berry and his assistant coaches are in the usual assess-and-re-recruit mode that follows every year.
“I just got back from a tournament in Oklahoma and the other coaches have been going to other games, but the recruiting continues on,” USM coach Scott Berry said. “Part of it is trying to replace a couple guys we lost in the draft, then obviously, trying to work on everybody for next year coming in.”
The Golden Eagles will have a reshaped roster for the 2020 season, losing 14 players off this spring’s team, including 10 seniors and junior outfielder Matt Wallner, who was taken earliest of any Golden Eagle in program history with the 39th overall selection.
The seniors included full-time starters in the field Hunter Slater (first base), Cole Donaldson (catcher) and part-time starters Fred Franklin (outfielder), Erick Hoard (first baseman), Storme Cooper (infielder).
Senior pitchers departing were right-handers J.C. Keys, who was drafted in the 23rd round by the Cincinnati Reds, Mason Strickland, and Jason Wright and left-handers Adam Jackson and Stevie Powers.
Berry said three other players were no longer with the team: junior right-hander Aaron Ginn; junior infielder Jacob Edwards junior left-hander Brooks Warren
USM lost two players from its signing class, including catcher/outfielder Cody Milligan of Crowley County Community College and right-handed pitcher Dallas Dyar of Clinton High School.
Milligan was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the ninth round of the recent Major League Baseball amateur draft, while Dyar was taken by the Philadelphia Phillies n the 21st round.
“They’re not going to be a part of our program,” Berry said. “They’ve opted to go in another direction in their careers and have signed professionally. From what I’ve been told, they’ve signed and moved on.”
Still, USM is expected to welcome at least 14 signees, including 13 players who signed in December or later in the winter, as well as a recent addition that Berry could not comment on because all the necessary paperwork had not been processed.
The 13-man singing list included Matt Adams, RHP, Pearland (Texas) HS; Michael Brewer, RHP/INF, Hillsboro (Mo.) HS; Chandler Best, LHP, Mobile (Ala.) McGill-Toolen HS; Dustin Dickerson, INF, West Jones HS; Ben Ethridge, RHP, West Lauderdale HS; Brady Faust, INF, New Orleans Brother Martin HS; Billy Garrity, OF, Sumrall HS.
Jake Holifield, INF, Mobile (Ala.) St. Paul’s HS; Tyler Lantz, RHP, West Lauderdale HS/Meridian CC; Isaiah Rhodes, RHP, McKinney (Texas) North HS; Caleb Sterling, C, Vicksburg (Miss.) Warren Central HS; Blake Wehunt, RHP, Carnesville (Ga.) Franklin County HS.
The group will a returning nucleus that includes starting outfielders Gabe Montenegro, Brant Blaylock and Hunter LeBlanc, second baseman Matt Guidry, catcher Bryant Bowen, third baseman Danny Lynch and shortstop Will McGillis, as well as starting pitchers Walker Powell and Gabe Shepard and relievers Cody Carroll, Sean Tweedy, Alex Nelms, Josh Lewis and Hunter Stanley.
“It’s still early, but we will make some adjustments with some current personnel returning and will look at some options,” Berry said. “But that’s what the fall is all about. You get all your people in here, and you start kind of moving them around, trying to be creative in how you can utilize each person.
“That can possibly open up something for another guy. We try to get as many bats in the lineup without suffering defensively. That’s number one. But that’s the role of the fall. That’s what it’s all about, how you can best utilize these guys for the spring.”