USM faces Tulane in key series
By By Stan Caldwell / special to the Star
May 16, 2002
HATTIESBURG For the University of Southern Mississippi, the 2002 baseball season comes down a mere handful of games.
The Golden Eagles complete their regular-season schedule this weekend with a big Conference USA series against Tulane at New Orleans, before heading to Kinston, N.C., next week for the C-USA Tournament. At stake are a possible C-USA regular-season championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
The numbers in the league standings pretty much speak for themselves. USM carries an overall record of 35-17 into the weekend series, but more importantly, the Eagles are 18-8 in conference play. That puts them in fourth place in the standings. However, they are only one game behind first-place Houston (19-7) and just a half-game behind second-place TCU and Louisville (both 19-8).
Unlike previous C-USA series, the final weekend of games will be played today, Friday and Saturday. The conference tournament is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
While the Golden Eagles are fighting for first place, Tulane (30-23, 14-13) is hoping to overhaul East Carolina for fourth place. The Green Wave struggled through the first half of the season, but have gone 15-6 since April 1.
As always, Tulane brings a hard-hitting team into the series, led by second baseman James Jurries, who is third in the conference in batting with a .411 average, including 19 home runs and 54 RBI. Jurries earned C-USA Hitter of the Week honors this week after hitting .636 (7 of 11) as the Wave took two of three at South Florida.
The Golden Eagles have been hot as well lately, having won nine of their last 11 games. McCrory, who will pitch the second game of the series on Friday, leads C-USA with a 2.31 ERA. Senior Shea Douglas will pitch on Thursday, with former West Lauderdale High and Meridian Community College standout Daniel Stewart going on Saturday.
Although Palmer says his team will focus on the task at hand, they will be taking an interest in two other big C-USA series, which have Louisville at East Carolina and TCU at Houston.
The games Thursday and Friday are set to begin at 6:30 p.m., with Saturday's game scheduled for 2 p.m.