23 Mar

charting a course

Southern Miss and Houston, who meet in a Conference USA opening series this weekend in Hattiesburg, might just see the direction of their respective seasons determined by what happens at Pete Taylor Park. In many ways, they are sitting in the same boat. USM, relying heavily on newcomers, is 12-9 and coming off a blowout win at Ole Miss. Houston, also rebuilding to an extent, is only 9-10 but just won two of three at Oklahoma State. The Eagles and Cougars have played 52 times all-time; the series is deadlocked at 26-all. The last time they met was in the C-USA Tournament last May in Pearl, with Houston winning 7-6 in 14 innings. Freshmen Mason Robbins (.442 with an 18-game hit streak) and Connor Barron (.355) and juco transfer Blake Brown (.342, four homers, 24 RBIs) lead the Eagles’ attack. They’ll face a senior left-hander tonight: Jordan Lewis, who is 3-2, 2.81. The Cougars’ pitching looks decent on paper. Their hitting doesn’t scare anyone. Chase Jensen leads the offense with a .303 average. USM will open with Andrew Pierce, a sensation at Jones County Junior College in 2011 who is 2-1 with a 2.30 this year. This figures to be a tight series, and the winner should head off with wind in its sails.
P.S. Hinds CC, which is 18-5, has had some rather remarkable hitting performances to date. Beau Wallace is hitting .464, Caleb Baucum .493 (with four homers) and Tyler Atkins .507 (with three homers and 22 RBIs). Amazing.

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