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HATTIESBURG, Miss. – After having its season ended abruptly last March due to COVID-19, the Southern Miss baseball program officially gets back to business Friday afternoon with its first fall team practice.

The Golden Eagles, which return 23 players as well as welcome 13 newcomers, finished the abbreviated 2020 campaign with a 12-4 record. The returning corps includes eight starters back from a season ago as well as 15 pitchers. The biggest position player loss from a season ago includes Matt Guidry, who hit .321 over his four-year career with 19 homers and 130 RBI.

Of the returning players, junior outfielder Gabe Montenegro headlines the returnees. Montenegro posted a .290 average with a homer and 11 RBI last season, along with sophomore designated hitter Charlie Fischer, who added a .322 average with two homers and 14 RBI. Sophomore third baseman Danny Lynch (.233/2/14), along with sophomore infielder Will McGillis (.255/2/12) and freshman shortstop Dustin Dickerson (.291/0/8) and freshman outfielder Reed Trimble (.275/1/12).

On the mound, the Golden Eagles have starting pitchers, senior Walker Powell, sophomore Gabe Shepard and freshman Ben Ethridge back for 2021. Powell posted a 3-0 record with a 1.24 earned run average with 22 strikeouts and only two walks in 29 innings of work. Shepard was 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA with 16 strikeouts and eight walks in 11 1/3 frames. Ethridge added a 3-0 mark with a 2.29 ERA and 26 strikeouts and five walks in 19 2/3 innings.

Senior closer Hunter Stanley also returns with a 2-0 record and three saves with a 1.42 ERA. He fanned 22 and gave up only one free pass in 12 2/3 innings.

Southern Miss also welcomes a talented incoming class that includes freshman outfielders Slade Wilks (Columbia, Miss.) and Carson Paetow (Vancleave, Miss.), as well as pitcher right-handed pitcher Tanner Hall (Zachary, La.).

Due to COVID-19, practices and scrimmages are closed to the general public.

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