13 Jun


Southern Miss turned the page Monday night on a glorious era. Scott Berry’s storied tenure started at Pete Taylor Park on Feb. 19, 2010, with an 11-0 win over Northwestern State. It ended on the same field with a 5-0 loss to Tennessee in Game 3 of the Super Regional — not the ending USM faithful had dreamed of for their retiring coach but not a terrible way to go out. The school’s all-time winningest coach doffed his hard hat and took a final curtain call as a gold-clad crowd of some 6,000 gave him a standing O. Berry won 528 games, made nine NCAA Tournament appearances, won five C-USA regular season titles and four tournament titles. In its first year in the Sun Belt Conference, USM finished second in the regular season, won the tourney title and then went off and won a regional on the road. Berry coached dozens of award-winning players and sent a bunch to pro ball. On top of all that, Berry is just a great guy, easy to root for. A trip to the College World Series would have been a more fitting finish, but for the second straight year, with Omaha in their sights, the Golden Eagles ran into some white-hot pitching. In 2022, it was Ole Miss, which went on to win the national title. This time, Vols pitchers blanked USM’s powerful lineup over the last 15 innings of the last two games. UT’s Chase Burns allowed one baserunner in the final 2 2/3 Monday. He got Dustin Dickerson on a line drive to end the game and the era. Christian Ostrander, the former pitching coach, is now the man in charge, and he has a lot to live up to. He follows Berry, who followed the legendary Corky Palmer, who took the Eagles to their one CWS appearance in 2009. Palmer succeeded Hill Denson, whose wins record Berry surpassed and whose name is on the field. Denson followed Pete Taylor, for whom the ballpark is named.

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