The wizardry of Coach Oz

Published: Apr. 27, 2022 at 11:45 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - You can point to any number of reasons Southern Miss is 33-8 and enjoying its highest national ranking at No. 4.

Consistency at the plate, in the field and on the mound.

Of course, the numbers the pitching staff continues to put up are hard to ignore.

The Golden Eagles rank inside the top five nationally in five different pitching categories:

  • 2nd – Earned-run-average (2.83)
  • 2nd – Strikeout-to-walk ratio (4.45)
  • 3rd – Strikeouts per nine innings (11.4)
  • 3rd – WHIP (1.09)
  • 4th – Walks allowed per nine innings (2.56)

The success on the bump carried over from last season despite losing three arms to the professional ranks – Hunter Stanley, Walker Powell and Ryan Och. It’s a credit to associate head coach/pitching coach Christian Ostrander.

He’s built a factory in five seasons – three All-Americans and a National Pitcher of the Year have learned under his tutelage.

Ostrander has an ability to get through to his players and, ultimately, get the most out of them on the field.

“Almost all the credit can go to him,” said USM sophomore pitcher Tanner Hall, whose 12.86 strikeout-to-walk ratio ranks No. 4 in the country. “Without a coach like that, it’s hard to have everybody execute how we’re doing things around here. He’s really kind of drilling into our brains to have confidence in yourself and he tells us that all the time. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will.”

“I think it’s about developing a relationship with them and that’s what coaching is in my opinion,” Ostrander said. “It’s not just do this, do that. It’s really getting to know them and I guess also just kind of exposing yourself a little bit to ‘em and being genuine. They know that ‘I got your back, man.’ And I know you’re going to have ours as well.”

Ostrander’s pitching staff has posted at least ten strikeouts in 30 of its 41 games this season.

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