HATTIESBURG, Miss. – Southern Miss baseball coach Scott Berry announced Wednesday the signings of eight players for the 2022 season, including infielders Evan Radford (Hoover, Ala.), Creek Robertson (Madison, Miss.) and Matthew Russo (Madisonville, La.), left-hander pitchers Bryce Fowler (Madison, Miss.) and Riley Dawkins (Starkville, Miss.), infielder/outfielder Casey Artigues (Hammond, La.) and right-handed pitchers Collin Husser (Ponchatoula, La.) and Niko Mazza (Madison, Miss.).
The eight high school products join the program, which finished 12-4 last year during a COVID-19 shortened season.
Here is a recap of each player in alphabetical order:
Artigues, from St. Thomas Aquinas High School and son of a former baseball coach, brings a high baseball IQ with him when he arrives in Hattiesburg next fall. He is a versatile defender, who also is a left-handed hitter with extreme feel at the plate to go along with great instincts on the bases. The infielder/outfielder helped his high school to an 8-5 record last season before the season was cut short and was a second-team all-district selection during his junior campaign.
Dawkins, a left-handed pitcher from Starkville High School, possesses a fastball in the mid-to-upper 80s and who has quality spin in his breaking ball. He has a good frame that should continue to fill out. Dawkins holds a 4-3 career mark at Starkville High over 13 appearances, and has fanned 60 in 41 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit just .211 against him.
Fowler, who currently plays at Germantown High School, throws in the 86-89 range as an athletic left-handed pitcher with a live arm. In addition, he has a good feel for his off-speed pitches and is highly competitive on the mound. He posted a 2-0 record in an abbreviated season last spring with 24 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings, while not allowing an earned run on his way to earning All-Metro by Mississippi Scoreboard.
Husser, at 6-foot-5 from Ponchatoula High School, holds a wiry athletic frame with a tremendous upside. A right-handed hitter with a power/speed combination who can also pitch. He has been clocked as a right-handed pitcher at 92 miles per hour. Husser holds a .360 career batting average with six doubles, a triple and 16 RBI in his prep career.
Mazza, a Madison-Ridgeland Academy product, is a strong, athletic right-handed pitcher who ranges to 95 with his fastball, who has a feel to pitch and a big-time competitor. He can also play middle infield and may have chance to hit from the left side. Mazza has put together a 2-1 record over his MRA career with a 1.54 earned run average and two saves. He also posted a .278 career batting average with 10 doubles, a triple and 22 RBI. He was a Perfect Game honorable mention All-American and made first-team All-Metro Jackson by Mississippi Scoreboard at second base.
Radford, who plays his high school baseball at Hoover High School, is an athletic right-handed hitter with plus size. A versatile player that can play both first base and in the outfield, he has legitimate power that should help the Golden Eagle offense in years to come. He made the All-South Metro second team by the Hoover Sun in the outfield as his team went 12-4 last spring.
Robertson, who plays at Madison Central High School, holds the distinction of being one of the better defensive shortstops in the state. But his defense isn’t his only tool, as he will be able to handle himself offensively as well as display great instincts on the field. Robertson was the State Games of Mississippi 2019 Male Athlete of the Year for baseball. Hit .292 with three doubles and a home run to go along with eight RBI as a sophomore in 2019.
Russo, who preps at St. Paul’s, looks to be a physical, athletic left-handed hitter with big-time power. He will be a solid defensive player at first base who plays with an extreme passion. Over two years of varsity action, Russo has batted .369 with five doubles, a triple and two home runs with 15 RBI over 103 at bats.