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FSU baseball regional preview: 2-seed Southern Miss

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Golden Eagles bring deep pitching staff, powerful bats to Oxford.

USM ace Hunter Stanley
southernmiss.com

Florida State baseball begins their NCAA Tournament against Southern Mississippi this afternoon. The Golden Eagles are the two-seed in the Oxford regional and one of the very best two-seeds in the tournament. The Eagles were one of the 20 predetermined sites to host a regional, but were not selected after falling in the semifinals of the CUSA conference tournament. Southern Miss will enter today’s game with a 37-19 record and a 22-9 record in the CUSA. The Golden Eagles are ranked top 25 by all the major polls and as high as #20 by D1Baseball.

Since 2003, the Golden Eagles have been a constant participant in the NCAA Tournament. From 2003-2011, they made nine straight tournaments. This year’s appearance will be the fifth straight and 17th overall time in the tournament. This will be the team’s third time playing in an Oxford regional. They’re 1-4 in the past two postseason trips to Ole Miss.

Southern Miss has also played Florida State once in the NCAA Tournament, dropping a game to the ‘Noles in the 2016 Tallahassee regional. Overall, USM is 12-38 all time against FSU. The Golden Eagles are 22-33 in the NCAA Tournament and have appeared in one super regional and one College World Series. This will be the ninth time Southern Miss is a two-seed. They have never moved on as a two-seed.

The Eagles have already clinched their 19th straight 30-win season. FSU has the most consecutive 30-win seasons at 56. one-seed Ole Miss is second with 24 and USM is fourth with 19. Against teams in the NCAA Tournament field, USM is 7-12. They were 4-7 against the 16th national seed, Louisiana Tech.

Scott Berry is in his 12th season as the Golden Eagles’ head coach. Berry has won four CUSA titles and has now been to seven NCAA Tournaments at Southern Miss. He is a three time Coach of the Year winner in the conference. Berry has a .647 winning percentage at USM over 668 games in 12 seasons in Hattiesburg.

Southern Miss is 10-5 in one-run games. When they hold opponents to less then six runs, USM is 32-8. When scoring 4+ runs, the Golden Eagles are 34-10. It will be important for FSU to start quick against USM. When they score in the first inning, Southern Miss is 15-2. When they score first, they’re 28-7. They’re yet to blow a game when leading after eight innings this season. When holding opponents to 0 home runs, they 21-4. Southern Miss is 9-4 on Fridays this season.

Southern Miss will start their tournament run at 3:00 PM ET on Friday against the Seminoles. Here is a look at the key contributors for the Golden Eagles:

Hitters

At the plate, the Golden Eagles are hitting .267 as a team. The home run has been this offense’s calling card. USM is top-30 in the country with 67 homers. Three players have double digit home runs. They have compiled a .451 slugging percentage and .372 on-base percentage. Just one player has double digit steals, as they have 31 SB’s as a team. In the field, USM has a .974 FLD%.

Charlie Fischer was an All-Conference USA first-team player. Fischer leads the team with a .338 average, 44 walks, and .505 OBP. The sophomore has produced a .550 SLG% wigth 11 doubles and seven homers. Fischer will enter the regional on a five-game hit streak. He has 13 multi-hit games in 48 starts. Fischer will be the Eagles’ designated hitter.

Reed Trimble, like Fischer, was an All-Conference USA first-team player. Trimble led Southern Miss with 14 homers and a .595 SLG%. The outfielder has some swing-and-miss in his game, with 44 K’s to 18 walks, but the power is dangerous. In the last series of the season, Trimble had four homers. He also leads the team with 58 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Trimble was third among qualified Golden Eagles with a .319 average. He’s riding a seven-game hit-streak into Oxford. Five of those games have been multi-hit games.

Gabe Montenegro is a doubles machine for the Golden Eagles. Montenegro is second on the team with a .330 average. He leads the team with 71 hits and 21 doubles. The 21 doubles are good for 10th in the country. He has produced a .493 SLG% and .426 OBP. Montenegro has more free passes than strikeouts. He has produced multi-hit games in six of the last ten contests. The outfielder has started every game this season.

Danny Lynch is the last of four USM starters who are hitting .300+. Lynch is fourth on the team with a .306 average. He’s third on the team with a .544 SLG% and 10 homers. He’s also produced nine doubles and two triples. Lynch has an OBP of .388

Pitchers

Southern Miss has one of the best pitching staffs in the country. Three of their four starters have an ERA under 2.70. Their top two starters were both named to the All-Conference USA first team. USM was first in the conference with a 3.59 ERA and just 122 walks. They posted eight complete games and seven shutouts. They’ve allowed two or fewer runs in 22 games and won each of the 22. Opponents hit .238 against the staff. The Golden Eagles have a 10.1 K/9 and 1.17 WHIP.

Hunter Stanley has been the Golden Eagles’ ace all season long and will get the start against the Seminoles in game one. Stanley was a first-team CUSA member. Over 14 starts, he threw 93 innings and walked just 16 batters. Stanley has an ERA of 2.42 and and opponents average of .198. He has a WHIP of just 0.89 and a 11.5 K/9. Stanley’s one weakness has been the home run ball, as he’s given up 12 homers this season. He’s gone at least six innings in 11 of 14 starts. In his last start, he posted a final line of 8 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 14 K’s, and 1 R. USM is 10-4 in Stanley’s starts. The RHP allowed more than 3 ER just once this season. Stanley has a sinking fastball in the low 90’s and can run it into the mid-90’s. His main out pitch is a high 70’s curveball, while he uses an effective changeup against left-handed hitters.

Walker Powell was the Eagles’ #2 starter, but still won the CUSA Pitcher of the Year. He was also a first-team All-CUSA member. Powell was 7th in the country with five complete games. He had a 2.53 ERA and was 9-2 over 81.2 IP. The Seminoles will likely not see Powell, as FSU can’t face USM in game two.

Ben Ethridge was Southern Miss’ third starter. Ethridge was dominant as a redshirt freshman this season. After being a freshman All-American in the shortened 2020 season, it was more of the same from the RHP this season. Over 13 starts, Ethridge had two complete game shutouts. He compiled a 2.65 ERA over 71.1 IP. He allowed a .217 average against and walked just 11 batters while striking out 81. He had a WHIP of 0.977. He was a second-team All-CUSA member.

Drew Boyd is the Eagles’ fourth starter. Boyd tossed 55 innings for USM over 12 starts. Boyd had a .254 average against, but allowed just four homers. He walked just seven batters while striking out 55. Boyd has a 3.76 average and 4-2 record.

Ryan Och will be the top arm out of the Southern Miss bullpen. Och was another All-CUSA second team member. The southpaw compiled a 1.47 ERA over 30.2 IP. He struck out 48 batters and walked just 10. He’s only allowed two homers and a .229 average against. Och has picked up seven wins in 20 appearances out of the pen. He’s yet to have a loss on his record this season. Garrett Ramsey leads the team with nine saves, but he’s only thrown 13.2 IP in 16 appearances. Over those 13.2 IP, he’s compiled a 2.63 ERA and struck out 20.