Baseball Opens 2021 Season Saturday versus Northwestern State

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 20, 2021

The 93rd Season Gets Underway: The 93rd season of Southern Miss baseball begins this weekend when the Golden Eagles play host to the Northwestern State Demons at Pete Taylor Park. Since 1986, the Golden Eagles have 34 winning seasons over the last 35. That span has included 33 campaigns of at least 30-win seasons and 12 40-win years.

The Demons: Northwestern State comes into Hattiesburg after finishing the 2020 season with a 12-4 record before the year ended. The Demons have made four NCAA Tournament appearances, including their last in 2018. Coach Bobby Barbier begins his fifth season as the program’s head coach, having posted a 100-87 record in his time at his alma mater.

Winning at Home: Since utilizing Pete Taylor Park as its home facility in 1984, the Golden Eagles are 812-339 (.705) at its venue, having won at least 20 or more home games in 30 of the 37 campaigns played at the park. During the 1985 and 1986 campaigns, Southern Miss played a handful of home games at Smokey Harrington Park, which is currently the home of Hattiesburg High School. Southern Miss opens 2021 by playing six of its first even games at home.

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Opening Weekend: The Golden Eagles are 45-28-1 in season openers since 1947. Southern Miss begins the slate at home for the 23rd time over the last 24 seasons. Southern Miss has won the last six openers – losing to Missouri in Lake Charles, La., 4-2, to begin the 2014 season – but has not lost a season opener at home since 2012, falling in the first of a three-game set to Nicholls State. This is the third time Southern Miss has opened the year against Northwestern State with the first two times coming in 2004 and 2010. The Golden Eagles swept the 2004 series and dropped the final game of the 2010 series.

Opening Day Weather: Since 2011, the temperature at game time on opening day has averaged 64.9 degrees overall and 66.1 degrees for games played in Hattiesburg. The only year Southern Miss did not open at home was in 2014, when they played Missouri in a 54-degree day at the first pitch. Of the nine previous opening days in Hattiesburg, four have in the 70s, including highs of 76 for the 2011 (Evansville) and 2018 (Mississippi State) openers. The lowest temp at game time was a 53-degree day against Murray State in 2015. It was 56 degrees at game time during the 2020 opening day against Murray State.

Back to the NCAAs in 2019: Southern Miss appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the fourth-straight year and the 16th time overall, playing in the Baton Rouge Regional to complete its 2019 season. The Golden Eagles made their first-ever appearance in the postseason in 1990, with a trip to Baton Rouge, and at one point reached regional play nine-straight seasons, from 2003-11.

Golden Eagles Take C-USA Title: Southern Miss captured the last Conference USA tournament title in 2019 and have won three of the last four events – making the championship game in all four seasons. The Golden Eagles also captured the 2018 C-USA regular season and tournament titles, marking the second time Southern Miss had won both C-USA championships in the same season with the other time coming in 2003. Four of the school’s five C-USA regular season titles have come under current head coach Scott Berry, while he has also led Southern Miss to four of their five tournament titles.

In February Under Berry: The Golden Eagles have posted a 62-28-1 record (.687) under Scott Berry in the month of February. Southern Miss has not had a losing month during his tenure and enjoyed a 7-0 start during the 2016 campaign.

Brian Dozier Retires After Nine Seasons in MLB: Former Golden Eagle Brian Dozier retired after nine seasons in the MLB, spending seven of those seasons with the Minnesota Twins. Dozier played on two World Series teams – the 2018 Los Angeles Dodgers and the 2019 Washington Nationals that defeated the Houston Astros – won a Gold Glove at second base in 2017, appeared in the 2014 All-Star Home Run Derby and was an All-Star the following year. He has more home runs in a season than any second baseman in American League history when he hit 40 (42 total) in 2016. He is the only MLB player to homer in his first plate appearance in the All-Star game and the playoffs.

Berry on Quickest Track to 400 Victories at School: The current Golden Eagle skipper, Scott Berry, will look to win his 400th career game at Southern Miss in 2021, aiming to become only the third baseball coach at the school to reach that plateau. The others are Hill Denson (468/1984-97) and Corky Palmer (458/1998-2009). Berry is also looking to reach that number in the quickest number of games. Here is a look at how long it took for Golden Eagle coaches to reach 400 victories:

Coach No. of Games to Get to 400 Wins
Corky Palmer (98-09) 644
Hill Denson (84-97) 732
Scott Berry (10-Present) 612 Games (395 wins)