College Podcast With Southern Miss. Coach Scott Berry

Image credit: Scott Berry (Photo by Bobby McDuffie/Getty Images)

This week on the Baseball America college podcast, Southern Mississippi coach Scott Berry joins Teddy Cahill to talk about the Golden Eagles’ back-to-back Conference USA titles and to look ahead to the 2019 season.

Southern Miss was led this spring in part by ace Nick Sandlin, who went 10-0, 1.06 with 144 strikeouts and 18 walks in 102.1 innings. Sandlin began his college career as an ace reliver before taking over as Friday starter this spring.

Berry said Sandlin established himself as one of the best pitchers in program history.

“I know in the 18 years I’ve been here, I’ve never had one that has been that consistent every time out,” Berry said. “And when I saw consistent, that’s where I’m putting him above everyone else. Every time he took the mound it was lights out, in all honesty. Truly a competitor in all senses of the word in everything that he did, even in the classroom. A great role model for our program as he carries that torch on into pro ball now.”

Sandlin throws from a low arm slot, the latest in a long tradition of sidearmers at Southern Miss. Berry explained why the Golden Eagles have been so successful with those kinds of pitchers.

“We get calls all the time about, ‘Hey, what do y’all see in making these kids go from down under?,’” Berry said. “Well, Nick came to us like that. But if you look at Southern Miss and the history of guys who go from a lower arm angle it goes back to Tony Phillips who actually made it to Triple-A with Seattle and then it moves into Chad Bradford, Austin Tubb, Collin Cargill, it goes on and on and on, with Chad Bradford making it at the highest level with major league service for 12 years, I think. We’ve had a lot of success here. I really like it because it’s a great matchup against righties, obviously, and we’ve been able to use those guys very well.”

Southern Miss is now into fall ball and is working to prepare for the spring. The team has a bit of a new look with Sandlin and third baseman Luke Reynolds, the Conference USA player of the year, having moved on to pro ball.

“I’m big on making mistakes in the fall,” Berry said. “I want us to fail in the fall. Because that’s where true learning comes from. If we can learn from those mistakes in the fall than hopefully we won’t make them in the spring. So, we put them through every kind of situation that we may see in the spring and hopefully you’re successful in them but if we fail we’re not losing the game in the fall. I tend to say we’re going to win a game because of it in the fall.”

Southern Miss does return outfielder/righthander Matt Wallner, the 2017 Freshman of the Year. Wallner can do a lot of things for the Golden Eagles and Berry said they’re looking for the best way to use him in his junior season, when he will be closely watched by scouts leading up to the draft.

“We can utilize Matt at all positions in the outfield,” Berry said. “Certainly, center field has been his position, but he may see a lot more action in right. I think the biggest thing with him this year on our team is more time on the mound. How we’re going to use him, I’m not really sure. We may choose to use him as a starter in midweek games in all honesty to clear his way to swing a bat and play a position on the weekends. We’re going to have to utilize his arm, definitely. It’s a power arm, 94-96 with a slider, good tilt on the ball with a 6-foot-5 frame. With Matt we’re excited about the abilities he brings here in his junior year.”

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