By Kayla Bloor, Southern Miss Athletic Communications Intern
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - If 2016 is any indication, the Southern Miss baseball team's offensive production will again enjoy another successful season under coach Scott Berry.
The Golden Eagles enter the 2017 campaign ready to improve on an already impressive offensive performance from 2016, which included a Conference USA Championship victory over Rice in front of a home crowd at Pete Taylor Park.
The Eagles offense lit up the scoreboard with 67 home runs and 419 total runs, leading Conference USA for the season last season. They also paced the league in other offensive categories, including batting average (.305), hits (622), and RBI (392).
Berry and the Golden Eagles look to capitalize on those performances this spring from recently selected preseason All-Conference USA players, left-handed pitcher Kirk McCarty and infielders Taylor Braley and Dylan Burdeaux.
Kirk McCarty ranked fourth in the conference with 3.15 earned run average and 89 strikeouts.
In 2016, Braley led C-USA with 10 home runs in 27 games before suffering a season-ending injury. Braley also held a .323 batting mark and 31 RBI. Burdeaux, who makes the transition from outfield to first base in 2017, paced C-USA with 59 runs scored, and contributed for 11 of the team's total home run number a year ago.
The Golden Eagles offense will also look to some newcomers this season for production which includes sophomore catcher Cole Donaldson, junior outfielder Mason Irby, and freshman Matt Wallner, who are among 21 newcomers for the squad this season.
The Golden Eagle season opens at home, Friday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m., against Northeastern. Fans can purchase single game, as well season ticket options, by going online at SouthernMissTickets.com, by calling 1-800-844-TICK (8425) or by visiting the Pat Ferlise Ticket Office, weekdays, from 8 a.m., until 5 p.m.