Palmer little happier this year at USM

By Staff
March 1, 2002
Six years ago Corky Palmer would have been stomping and huffing and puffing and whining despite the fact his baseball team has jumped out to a 7-1 start.
But this is not six years ago and Palmer is no longer piloting the then junior college baseball juggernaut known as Meridian Community College.
He is currently in his sixth season as the head coach of the University of Southern Mississippi and is coming off only his second losing season ever as a head coach.
Last year the Golden Eagles of USM went 27-32 in what was a miserable season for Palmer and probably everybody around him.
Palmer's only other losing season had come in 1987, when MCC went 17-29 in his first year with the two-year school. That was also the last losing season Meridian has experienced.
Yes, Palmer has been hard to please over the years.
MCC had several good starts during his tenure there, but he usually found something to gripe about.
But, as of today, there isn't that much griping in Hattiesburg.
Palmer is just happy to see his Golden Eagles playing well enough to win seven games.
Last year was supposed to be the year USM won Conference-USA and made a bid for the College World Series. It turned out to be one huge disappointment.
But you don't win 647 games by quitting when things don't go your way.
And while he was actually looking forward to getting back on the baseball field with his 2002 team, Palmer was also very cautious when he talked about the prospects for this year.
He was quick to point out that his team was a young one and wasn't very deep in some places. But, so far, so good.
While three of the wins didn't come over Lipscomb (Tenn.) University, still getting its feet wet in NCAA Division I, the last two wins were very impressive.
The Golden Eagles followed up a win over Nebraska with Wednesday's 5-1 win over Ole Miss, a highly respected team, thought by many to be one of the 10 best in the country.
But, alas, it is early in the year. And the Golden Eagles aren't likely to win the College World Series, a Regional title or even Conference-USA. But they are better than they were last year.
In basketball you see teams struggle along at 15-12 or even 13-13 and then get hot and win a spot in the NCAA Tournament because they get hot at the end and win their conference tourney.
That just doesn't happen that much in baseball. Baseball seems to be a game of streaks. A team that wins a couple, then loses a couple can find itself in a funk it just can't get out.
But wins are contagious. And the Golden Eagles could be on the verge of being seriously infected with a case of winning.
Next up for USM are eight consecutive home games, including three games each against Buffalo and Eastern Illinois and two against Louisiana-Monroe.
While winning all eight may be a bit of a stretch, it is certainly possible to win six or seven. After going 27-32 last year, 14-2 sure would look pretty good to Palmer and the school's baseball supporters.
Then comes Conference-USA play and the real test. Because it really doesn't matter what you do against non-conference teams, if you can't get it done inside the league.
One thing to remember about Corky Palmer is that he never loses site of his target. He may have to come at the problem from different angles when the door gets slammed shut in his face, but he doesn't quit.
He might back up, but he doesn't back down.
Palmer enjoyed coaching high school baseball. He absolutely loved his 10 years at MCC. But his passion for USM runs deep. Very, very deep.
He played his college baseball there and from the first day he called his first pitch as a head coach, he was on the path to returning to Hattiesburg.
He is where he wants to be.
He may never win a National title at USM. He may never win a conference tournament. But he will never be satisfied with anything less than the best his team can give him.
He never has been and never will be.
Never.

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