HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The usual suspects will take the field on Friday in USM’s 4 p.m. season opener against Murray State.
Sophomore right-hander Gabe Shepard earns the start on the mound, while preseason All-Conference USA selections Matt Guidry (second base) and Gabe Montenegro (left field) lead the list of returners. There will be some new faces in black and gold this season – though not necessarily new to the Pine Belt. Seminary grad Fisher Norris is primed for his redshirt freshman season.
The all-state high school infielder batted .429 with 48 runs-batted-in as a senior, leading the Bulldogs to a class 3A South State championship. Norris is eager to make the transition to right field this year and finally put on that Southern Miss jersey.
“It’s awesome, this is a place I always wanted to go,” Norris said. “I was committed to Pearl River [Community College] and then Southern offered me in January of my senior year. So, I was ecstatic to learn I was going to be able to come here and play. Now that I’m actually getting a chance to play, it’s surreal.”
“He’s been one of my biggest surprises this fall,” said USM head coach Scott Berry. “The game seemed a little bit fast for him last year. A year to be able to sit there on gamedays and watch and learn has really helped him. He’s a left-handed stick that has a really, really good eye at the plate and doesn’t get himself out. He reminds me of a young Trey Sutton at that age, [who] was a pretty good hitter for us through those years.”