Isaiah Rhodes becoming major piece to deep USM bullpen

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Southern Miss once again leads the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.94).

The consistency on the mound has a lot to do with USM’s depth. Pitching coach Christian Ostrander has plenty of options to turn to in the bullpen.

“Soft guys like me, power righties, we got power lefties,” said USM sophomore right-hander Isaiah Rhodes. “We got funky lefties like [Justin] Storm, who can still throw hard. Chandler [Best], great pitchability. You’re not going to get the same guy out of the bullpen two times in a game.”

Keeping opponents off balance, the Golden Eagle pitching staff can throw a lot of different things at ‘ya.

One of those unique arms is sophomore Isaiah Rhodes. He remembers watching former Southern Miss pitcher Nick Sandlin toss seven shutout innings in a 2018 NCAA regional win over Dallas Baptist.

Knowing how USM develops side-armers like himself, Rhodes signed with the Golden Eagles out of McKinney, Texas.

“I think coach Oz’s best skill is instilling confidence in pitchers,” Rhodes said. “Knowing what makes them unique and building off of that.”

Even though he appeared in just two games last season, Rhodes never lost his confidence. The hard work and patience is paying off.

Rhodes leads Southern Miss with a 0.90 earned-run-average, allowing just one earned run in ten innings. He’s 2-0 with 12 strikeouts to just three walks.

“Not as much physical as it was mental,” Rhodes said. “A lot of it was not worrying about how I’ve done in the past or how I’m going to do in the future, but kinda staying in the moment. I was one of the last guys to pitch so I took a lot of the time after practice every day to work on my stuff. I was really confident even though I wasn’t pitching. Took my skills up to summer ball in Vermont and really applied them and then in the fall and just stayed confident.”

Rhodes, of course, is just one piece to what Southern Miss believes is a tough puzzle for opponents to figure out.

“I think we really do have one of the best bullpens in the country and I think we’re going to keep showing that,” Rhodes said. “And we have some of the best hitters in the country and whenever they’re rolling, we’re unstoppable. I really believe that.”

The Golden Eagles (17-7, 5-1 Conference USA) host Louisiana Tech for a three-game series this weekend.

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