HATTIESBURG, Miss. – A familiar face takes over at the helm of the Southern Miss baseball program as Director of Athletics Richard Giannini announced today that Scott Berry has been promoted to the head coaching position. Berry replaces Corky Palmer, who announced his retirement as the Golden Eagle coach last week after 12 seasons leading the Southern Miss baseball team. Berry’s promotion is pending approval by the Board of Trustees, Institute of Higher Learning.
Berry has been Palmer’s right-hand man for the last nine seasons at Southern Miss, and it is no coincidence that the school is in the midst of the most successful run in school history advancing to six consecutive NCAA regionals.
“We have always had great respect for Scott Berry as a baseball coach, but more importantly his impeccable character,” Giannini said. “After talking with dozens of current and former players, donors and dugout club members, it is obvious he is the person to take over for Coach Palmer. He has been a big part of the six consecutive NCAA regional appearances and I know his leadership will continue that tradition of excellence and success.”
Berry came to Southern Miss prior to the 2001 season. Since he joined the staff, the Golden Eagles have garnered a 346-197 (.637) record while advancing to NCAA postseason play six times. The team also won the Conference USA Championship in 2003.
In his tenure at Southern Miss, Berry’s main responsibility has been working with the pitching staff, mentoring four pitchers to seven All-American honors, including at least one All-American in four consecutive years from 2003-06. He also has coached three pitchers to freshmen All-American honors and saw 12 pitchers drafted into professional baseball.
Prior to joining Palmer’s staff in 2001, he was the head coach at Meridian Community College where he amassed a 186-57 mark. In his four years as the head coach at MCC, Berry guided the Eagles to the NJCAA World Series twice, won the Region 23 Championship three times and captured the Mississippi/Louisiana Championship all four years.
Berry was named the Regional Coach of the Year three times (1997, 1998 and 2000), District Coach of the Year twice (1998 and 2000), while earning the Diamond Sports ABCA Region Coach of the Year in 1998 and the Louisville Slugger Coaching Award two times in 1997 and 1998.
At Meridian, he coached 30 players who signed to play Division I baseball and had 10 players selected in the major league draft, including 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner, Cliff Lee, of the Cleveland Indians, who played for Berry in 1999 and 2000.
Lee is one of four current major leaguers who played under Berry including Baltimore Orioles pitcher Bob McCrory (Southern Miss), Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brent Leach (Southern Miss) and Houston Astros infielder Jason Smith (Meridian CC).
Berry is no stranger to following in Palmer’s footsteps. He was an assistant coach under Palmer at Meridian from 1991-96 and he took over the program when Palmer left for Southern Miss in 1997. Four years later, Palmer asked Berry to rejoin him at Southern Miss before the 2001 season.
“There is no question in my mind that he will do a great job as the head coach at Southern Miss,” Palmer said. “He is a tremendous baseball coach and the players really respond to the way he coaches. I could not be any happier for him and his family. He deserves this opportunity and I think he will do a great job.”
Berry, a native of Neosho, Mo., played two seasons collegiately at Crowder College, where he was a two-time all-region selection and the team’s most valuable player his sophomore season. A back injury forced his career to come to an end prematurely, but Berry spent the final two season of his college career as a student assistant coach at Southwest Missouri State where he earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree.
He and his wife Laura have two children, Garren (14) and Kathryn Grace (5). Laura received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Miss in speech communication. He is the son of Marliyn Berry and the late James Berry.
Giannini and Deputy Athletic Director Scott Carr put together an advisory group that reviewed possible candidates and unanimously choose Scott Berry as the successor to Palmer. The committee consisted of: Nick Welch (Athletic Foundation), Rick Maddox (Dugout Club), Dennis Phillips (Faculty Athletics Representative), Charlie Rogers (Former Southern Miss Baseball Player) and current Golden Eagle player Brian Dozier.