Southern Miss

Southern Miss baseball is headed to LSU while Ole Miss and MSU host tough regionals

With so many NCAA baseball regionals taking place across the Southeast this week, Southern Miss could have landed in one of as many as six possible locations.

It turns out the Golden Eagles will be playing in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, as a No. 3 seed this weekend. They will be joined by No. 1 seed LSU, No. 2 Arizona State and No. 4 Stony Brook.

USM will play Arizona State at noon on Friday. LSU and Stony Brook will follow at 6 p.m.

USM (38-19) clinched its 16th trip to the NCAA tournament with a Conference USA tournament title on Sunday, beating FAU 4-0 in the championship game.

After stumbling down the stretch in the regular season, losing three consecutive conference series to finish the slate, USM will start regional play on a four-game winning streak.

The Southern Miss pitching staff is looking as strong as it has all season with six different pitchers combining to hold opponents scoreless over the last 19 innings.

“I think FAU has the best offensive approach of any team we’ve faced and to keep them off the board was pretty incredible by our staff,” USM coach Scott Berry said.

Freshman right-hander Gabe Shepard will likely start one of USM’s first two games of the regional after throwing the first 7 1/3 innings of a no-hitter against Rice in the semifinals of the C-USA tournament. After USM’s other top two starters, redshirt junior Walker Powell and senior Stevie Powers, threw on Sunday, there’s a chance Shepard could take the mound in the first game of the regional.

“We have a great pitching staff and they brought their best stuff,” USM senior center fielder Fred Franklin said. “That helped us out a lot because we wouldn’t have gotten as far as we did without them. Gabe Shepard, Walker … all of them were great.”

Ole Miss (37-24) and Mississippi State (46-13) found out Sunday night that they will be playing at home this weekend.

The Rebels, who are the No. 12 overall seed, helped their chances by winning four games in the SEC Tournament before falling 11-10 to Vanderbilt in Sunday’s title game.

Joining Ole Miss in the Oxford Regional will be No. 2 Illinois, No. 3 Clemson and No. 4 Jacksonville State. Illinois will play Clemson at 3 p.m. on Friday and Ole Miss-Jacksonville State will be at 7 p.m.

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The three other teams in the Starkville Regional are No. 2 Miami, No. 3 Central Michigan and No. 4 Southern. On Friday, MSU will play Southern at noon and Miami-Central Michigan will take the field at 7 p.m.

This weekend will mark the second season in a row that Ole Miss has hosted a regional and the ninth time overall. While Ole Miss was uncertain if it would be hosting after losing the SEC title game on Sunday, there was never any doubt that the Bulldogs would be playing in Starkville this weekend.

MSU is hosting an NCAA regional for the 14th time in program history, but it marks the first time for the school since 2016. The Bulldogs are the No. 6 seed overall after going 1-2 in the SEC tournament. The Bulldogs’ lone win in Hoover was a 6-5 win over LSU in 17 innings in the tournament opener.

The Baton Rouge Regional is paired up with the Athens, Georgia, Regional in the next round. Oxford is paired with Fayetteville, Arkansas, and the Starkville winner will play the winner from Stanford.

All games will be available on the ESPN family of networks, including live streams on the ESPN app.

Patrick Magee is a sports writer who has covered South Mississippi for much of the last two decades. From Southern Miss to high schools, he stays on top of it all.