Josh Lewis kept coming back to Southern Miss while weighing his options.
There was a lot about the Golden Eagles’ program that the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College left-hander liked.
So after visiting the nearby Hattiesburg campus two weekends ago, Lewis took some time to think it over. Earlier this week, the Mobile, Alabama, native went ahead and made his decision official and committed to USM.
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He expanded on his decision Friday.
“Their facilities are amazing up there. I think the coaches have a good plan on how they can make me better so I can one day get into the draft. Obviously they have a previous record of winning,” Lewis said. “I just like the program a lot and the coaches. It’s definitely a good program that’s in a spot to make a run at the College World Series every year.
“(Committing) definitely takes a lot of weight off my shoulders. I don’t have to worry about coaches coming to watch me anymore. Now I can just do what I do and continue to get better.”
Lewis said he chose USM over offers from Nicholls State and Louisiana-Monroe. UAB and Southeastern had also shown interest.
A big plus, Lewis said, was the addition of former Gulfport coach Christian Ostrander to the USM staff. The Golden Eagles had previously shown interest in Lewis, but he said Ostrander essentially played the role of closer.
“He seems like a great guy and great coach,” Lewis said. “Everybody I talked to who has played under him or was recruited by him in the past has said the same thing. He really sealed the deal for me.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Lewis uses a traditional three-pitch mix with his fastball hitting 89 mph that complements his changeup and curveball.
“I’ll go with my curveball to get the swing and miss. I like to start out early with the fastball and then coming in with the curveball,” Lewis said. “Being from the left size I have a huge advantage with lefties having natural movement. My fastball has pretty good run on it. I feel like I can spot all of my pitches pretty good as well.”
Once he gets to Hattiesburg, Lewis hopes to factor into the Golden Eagles’ weekend rotation but he understands nothing is guaranteed.
“(Ostrander) said if it works out like he wants it to, he sees me as a starter. But, like he said, nothing is given and everything is earned so I’ll have to win that spot,” Lewis said. “I like it so you don’t get complacent. Means you have to work for it. That’s a good thing. Also means they’re not just going to give it to somebody else — you have a shot at winning that position.”
As a senior at Theodore High in 2016, Lewis posted an 8-3 record with a 1.68 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings. As a freshman last season, Lewis was 3-5 with a 5.01 ERA and 44 strikeouts against 21 walks in 50 1/3 innings.