13 May

taking flight

A seven-game win streak capped by a 38-run explosion in a three-game conference road sweep has propelled Southern Miss back into Baseball America’s Top 25. The 25th-ranked Golden Eagles are 34-17, 18-9 Sun Belt, and back in BA’s poll for the first time in two months. It’s the right time to be taking off, with four regular season games left — Ole Miss at home on Tuesday and a Sun Belt series at home vs. Texas State on the weekend — before the league tournament. The NCAA Tournament looms in the distance. Ozzie Pratt had a five-hit game on Sunday in a 14-6 romp past Arkansas State, driving in three runs and scoring three. But no Eagles player is hotter than Slade Wilks, the senior DH from Columbia. Wilks went 7-for-14 in the ASU series with three homers, seven RBIs and seven runs. He has a 24-game hitting streak. He leads the team with 13 homers, 53 RBIs and a .596 slugging average. With 45 career homers, Wilks is tied for sixth on USM’s all-time list with the legendary slugger Fred Cooley. Leadoff batter Dalton McIntyre — USM’s Ferriss Trophy candidate — has been a spark all season; the Meridian Community College transfer leads the team with a .388 average and has scored 39 runs and swiped 10 bases. But Wilks is the aircraft carrier for first-year coach Christian Ostrander. P.S. Mississippi State (33-18) slipped from 12th to 15th in the BA poll after losing two of three at third-ranked Arkansas over the weekend. … Delta State (32-22) is bound for the NCAA Division II South Region Bracket 2 at St. Leo, Fla. The Statesmen, seeded sixth in the eight-team regional, will open tourney play with Embry-Riddle (Fla.) on Thursday. … William Carey University and Blue Mountain Christian are scheduled to play today in their respective NAIA regionals, though weather may interrupt. Carey is hosting a four-team Opening Round event in Hattiesburg, while BMC is in the five-team tourney at LSU-Shreveport.

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