Former Meridian coach looking good at USM
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
March 15, 2002
HATTIESBURG The transition from head coach to major college assistant has been challenging at times, but former Meridian Community College coach Scott Berry is seeking to help build Southern Mississippi's baseball program into a consistent winner.
Berry is in his second season as the top assistant to head coach Corky Palmer at USM. The Golden Eagles are off to a 12-4 start heading into their Conference USA series opener today against Texas Christian in Fort Worth.
Berry's primary role for USM is as hitting coach. He also works with the team's outfielders and catchers. It's a responsibility he readily enjoys.
Berry's first year at USM was a difficult one. The Golden Eagles hit a mid-season slump and were never able to correct themselves. The end result was a 27-32-1 record, Palmer's worst season since his very first season with MCC back in 1987.
USM third baseman Allen Winningham said an early March loss to Ole Miss seemed to send the club on its spiral. Berry agrees to a point.
Palmer said he is glad to have someone like Berry on his staff.
The two's association began when Palmer hired Berry as his assistant at MCC in 1991. Berry played baseball and got his degree and masters from Southwest Missouri State, He spent six seasons under Palmer at MCC where the Eagles posted an outstanding record of 266 wins and 86 losses.
In that span, MCC won five Miss-Lou Conference titles, three Region 23 titles and two South Central District crowns. The 1996 squad finished as the National Junior College runners-up at the NJCAA World Series in Grand Junction, Colo.
Palmer left Meridian after that season to become the top assistant at USM under coach Hill Denson. Berry stepped up to take the head job at MCC.
In four seasons at MCC, Berry's Eagles won at least 50 games twice. He compiled an overall record of 185-58 and his teams were consistently ranked in the Top 10 in the NJCAA polls.
In 1998, Meridian went 52-12 and finished fifth at the World Series. In 2000, the Eagles were 46-19 and made their fourth trip to the World Series, again finishing fifth.
Christian batted .351 and had 14 home runs in making second-team All-SEC. Current USM players Winningham and Daniel Stewart also played for Berry on the 2000 team.
Berry said that both Stewart and Winningham are having productive seasons for the Golden Eagles.
Cliburn, who is back-up first baseman for Ole Miss said Berry was instrumental to his baseball career.
Berry said he will always look back fondly at MCC, but with the new recruiting limitations imposed after 2001, he felt a change was needed.