HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Much conversation heading into the 2020 Southern Miss baseball season involved the youth movement undertaken by the Golden Eagles this spring.
While this is true, the Golden Eagles still enjoyed a healthy senior flavor which helped the team jump out to a 12-4 record before the season was suspended on March 12.
Dating back to the 2016 campaign, members of this class enjoyed NCAA Tournament appearances in each year since joining the program, while winning Conference USA regular-season titles in 2017 and 2018, along with C-USA Tournament titles in 2016, 2018 and 2019.
The Southern Miss 2020 senior class included nine student-athletes - one position player, one dual player and seven pitchers. While the NCAA granted these seniors an additional year of eligibility for 2021, there certainly remains a chance that some may not elect to return next year and this serves as a way to celebrate these young men which grew up within this baseball program.
“While we don’t know what the athletic future holds for these young men, we do know their past contributions both on and off the field have maintained the tradition of Southern Miss Baseball,” said Southern Miss baseball coach Scott Berry.
Local product and lone position player, Matt Guidry, returned for his fifth-year this season, extending his reached base streak to 72 consecutive games when the Golden Eagles rallied for a 9-7 come-from-behind victory at Troy in what has been their final game of the year.
One of the team’s co-captains, Guidry appeared in 178 career contest (154 starts) and posted a .321 batting average with 19 homers and 130 RBI. He added 124 walks, ranking him tied for fifth on the school’s career chart, and 40 times was hit by a pitch.
Another fifth-year player, Walker Powell (Fayetteville, Ark.), compiled a 20-8 overall pitching mark with a 3.02 earned run average of 54 appearances, including 40 starts. The four-time Conference USA Pitcher of the Week fanned 189 and walked just 38 over 250 1/3 innings as he also posted five complete games and two shutouts. Powell’s career win total puts him in ninth place on Southern Miss career chart, while his innings pitch total is 10th.
Senior pitchers, left-hander Sean Tweedy (Mandeville, La.) and right-hander Alex Nelms (Gulfport, Miss.) also have been mainstays for the Golden Eagle program over the last four seasons. Tweedy holds a career 7-1 record with a 3.67 ERA, while Nelms – the other team co-captain - was 1-0 in 40 relief appearances and 56 strikeouts over 54 1/3 innings.
Hunter Stanley (Hammond, La.), the team’s closer and preseason National Stopper of the Year watch list member, headlines a group that has spent the last two seasons with the team after spending two years in junior college.
Stanley registered seven career saves and was 7-2 with a 2.68 ERA with 58 strikeouts over 53 1/3 innings. His total in 2020 was 22 strikeouts against one walk in 12 2/3 innings.
The Golden Eagles lone two-way player, Brant Blaylock (Southaven, Miss.), saw action in 48 games over his two seasons, playing in the outfield and at first base. He also saw action on the mound where he posted a 2-1 record in 12 appearances with a 4.20 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 15 innings of work.
Left-hander Josh Lewis (Theodore, Ala.) registered a 1-1 record over 18 appearances, including two starts – one stellar outing versus LSU in last year’s regional – and had allowed just one earned run over five innings of work this spring. Transfer Tyler Spring (Wiggins, Miss.), the right-hander who came to Southern Miss from Mississippi State, also was putting up solid numbers as he was 1-0 with 14 strikeouts with just three walks over 10 innings.
Our last senior, right-hander Cody Carroll (Mount Dora, Fla.), suffered an arm injury last summer and was scheduled to take a redshirt season in 2020. He is expected back in 2021.
While some of these seniors could be back to help the Golden Eagles for one more go around next year, there will be those whose time in a Golden Eagle uniform was cut too short. And for them, we congratulate them for wonderful careers and thank them for being Golden Eagles.