Rebels’ Bianco, Golden Eagles’ Berry Meet with Media Prior to Hattiesburg Super Regional
HATTIESBURG, Miss. – On Friday afternoon, Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco and Southern Miss head coach Scott Berry sat down with the media as the two teams prepare to face off in a Super Regional matchup that begins Saturday.
Much has been made of the all-Mississippi Super Regional, and the players could easily get caught up in the hysteria surrounding Pete Taylor Park. But Bianco and Berry talked about the way their players are able to stay focused when it comes to a big matchup like this one.
USM head coach Scott Berry:
“We talk about a game-by-game approach. It’s not the opponent your playing, it’s not the situation you’re playing in. I think you can get overwhelmed with those things if you let them. We just try and simplify it and understand that the game is what you’re trying to play and win. You have to have an opponent to do that, it’s just this situation where two really good in-state teams are playing and the exciting thing is that one of those is going on to Omaha to represent Mississippi… We just try to stay in the moment, just try to understand that Saturday is the most important game on our schedule and that’s what we’re going to focus on.“
Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco:
“I think both of us coach at programs that are used to this publicity. It’s neat that it’s at a super regional, but this isn’t something unusual for us to play with so many eyes on us. It just happens to be the last step before you get to the College World Series. I think both programs are ready for that, I know we are. We hope playing in the SEC you get some of this, some of these crowds, but this is a tough place to play. We’ve been coming here for twenty plus years and haven’t had a ton of success here. We know how good they are and how ramped up this crowd can be and it’ll be a good challenge for us.“
The Rebels have been in this position before, but have only punched their ticket to Omaha once in the last 21 seasons. Coach Bianco was asked if there was any change in his approach with another opportunity to break through.
“It’s asked a lot and it’s no secret that we’ve been in this position a lot but only gotten through once. But, I think the best answer that you give is just to keep knocking on the door… I think we approach it the same way we’d approach an SEC weekend on the road. You are who you are at this point; you don’t all the sudden try to figure out the bunt war or the hit-and-run-war or do something different with your pitching staff… You hope that you play well enough here to move on.“
The Rebels and Golden Eagles have met 41 times in Mike Bianco’s tenure in Oxford. In that stretch, USM holds a slight edge, with Ole Miss owning a 20-21 record in those games.
The two teams met in the postseason last year in the Oxford Regional, with Southern Miss taking the first matchup, 10-7. But Ole Miss would bounce back to take the second game, 12-9, and win the regional championship. This will be the first time the two teams have met in a Super Regional.
They have met twice this year, once in Pearl where USM won, and once in Hattiesburg where the Rebels emerged victorious.
Super Regional Schedule
Game one of the series is set for a 3:00 p.m. CT first pitch on Saturday. The game will air on ESPNU. Game two will go at the same time on Sunday, but will air on ESPN2.
Ole Miss will send Dylan DeLucia (5-2, 4.68 ERA, 79 K, 24 BB) to the mound in game one. The Golden Eagles will counter with Hurston Waldrep (5-2, 2.96 ERA, 128 K, 29 BB.)
Here’s the complete press conference:
(Feature image credit: Josh McCoy, Ole Miss)
Austin has more than ten years in sports media, including sports talk radio, play-by-play broadcasting and journalism. He has followed Ole Miss athletics for his entire life and has covered the Rebels and the rest of the SEC while working in the Memphis media market. Outside of sports media, Austin is a musician and outdoorsman. Before a serious accident forced him to be medically discharged, he was a multi-media journalist with the Mississippi National Guard.