If Southern Miss joins Mississippi's College World Series dynasty, it will differ from MSU, Ole Miss

The state of Mississippi has ruled the college baseball world the past two years, and now it might extend to three years with the rise of Southern Miss baseball.

However, there is one thing that sets the Golden Eagles program apart from the past two College World Series champions − Mississippi State and Ole Miss − and it's where they recruit. On USM's 38-man roster, 20 were recruited out of Mississippi, whether from high schools or area colleges.

And if there was one thing high school coaches in Mississippi could agree with, it's the kind of player that the Golden Eagles desire.

Madison Central coach Patrick Robey has three of his former players on the roster as the Golden Eagles (45-18) prepare to host Tennessee (41-19) at Pete Taylor Park in the Hattiesburg Super Regional starting Saturday (2 p.m. CT, ESPNU) in a best-of-three series. Robey said he couldn’t agree more about the Southern Miss culture − it’s all blue-collar.

“They're looking for a certain type of player that understands the history of that program, understands the success and expectations ...,” Robey said. “Grit, hard work, a lot of sweat, not that those other schools aren't like that. Southern Miss does a great job of just knowing what they're looking for.”

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High school coaches on Southern Miss impact

One of Robey's former players is emblematic of that approach, as junior southpaw Justin Storm has made a presence for himself coming out of the pen with USM. He sports a 2.61 ERA in 41⅓ innings pitched with 69 strikeouts.

With Mississippi serving as a hotbed of good baseball and players, USM turns to its own backyard to replenish its roster.

Northwest Rankin coach KK Aldridge says he sees this on a daily basis.

“They have done a great job getting the local talent here in the state of Mississippi. I think that's something that's been paying off there over the last few seasons, and even before that,” Aldridge said. “They have become a baseball school, and I think them having their footprint right here in the Mississippi area and getting some of the best players from the area has really helped them out and achieve the success that they've had over the past few years.”

Ole Miss and Mississippi State have in-state recruits and players as well, but fewer than USM during the championship seasons. Ole Miss' 2022 roster listed 13 in-state players, and Mississippi State's 2021 roster listed 15.

“If you go to Southern Miss, you go with a little chip on your shoulder because a lot of the kids maybe don't get recruited by State or Ole Miss," said Germantown coach Chris Peden. "Don't get me wrong, they get their fair share of those kids too, but I think when you go to play there you take on that mentality of Coach (Scott) Berry there's just no nonsense.

“You gotta be a grinder or a hard worker. Those are the kinds of kids that go there. They are gonna outwork people. They may not have all the hallmarks and accolades like some of the kids who go to State and Ole Miss, but I think they get a lot of pride in beating and competing with those teams.”

Building a future USM baseball legacy

Southern Miss two-way player Nick Monistere, a graduate of Northwest Rankin, is an example. The freshman infielder is hitting .328 with 27 RBIs and four home runs and has pitched nine innings with a 4.00 ERA, striking out 10.

Along with him are athletes like junior outfielder Slade Wilks (Columbia Academy) and infielder Dustin Dickerson (West Jones). The duo has combined for 30 home runs and 93 RBIs.

Aldridge said that players like Monistere who have success at programs like Southern Miss, and this may be the most overlooked trait, help create a new generation of talent in their hometown.

“To see a candidate like Nick is huge for the program. We're actually hosting a baseball camp this week and the kids they're all talking about how they want to be Nick one day,” Aldridge said.

“To have that kind of energy surrounding our program because he's been able to achieve this type of success so early on is big. It just creates excitement around the program, that's very special for us.”

This article originally appeared on Hattiesburg American: Why Southern Miss baseball could continue College World Series dynasty