USM baseball working its way into postseason picture

Posted by PATRICK MAGEE on April 14, 2014 

The Southern Miss baseball team still has plenty of work to do, but it's starting to make a case as a potential postseason squad.

The Golden Eagles are 21-16 overall and 10-5 in Conference USA. That's good enough for a three-way tie for second place tie with UAB and Texas-San Antonio - two teams they own series victories over this season.

USM is looking for its sixth consecutive C-USA series victory when it hosts Louisiana Tech this weekend.

First-place Rice is C-USA's lone lock as a postseason bid at 26-12 and 13-5 with an RPI ranking of No. 11 according to WarrenNolan.com.

Other teams that could be in the mix for postseason selections are Old Dominion (22-15, 10-8) and Florida International (24-10, 10-8). ODU has an RPI ranking of No. 32 while FIU comes in at No. 43.

USM is currently ranked at No. 46 in RPI and has a good chance at improving that number over the next two weeks. The Golden Eagles take on LSU (27-9) Tuesday in Metairie, La., before hosting a struggling Louisiana Tech team for a three-game series this weekend.

USM's best shot at making a case for an at-large bid comes in a five-game stretch from April 22-30 when it travels to Alabama for a mid-week contest before hosting Rice for a three-game series. The Eagles wrap up the five-game stretch with a road game at Ole Miss on April 30.

If the Golden Eagles can somehow take at least three out of those five games, they should be in a much stronger position for the NCAA selection committee.

Even though Conference USA is regarded as a quality baseball league, it's had a difficult time earning NCAA at-large bids in recent seasons. USM will have to avoid any major lapses the rest of the way and there's a lot of baseball left to play.

Southern Miss does have the benefit of hosting the Conference USA tournament starting on May 21 at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg. If it can advantage of the home field advantage with a tournament title, the Golden Eagles will earn their first postseason bid since 2011.

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