Sideline View with Dale McKee

Published: Jun. 20, 2022 at 10:42 AM CDT
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Ole Miss pitcher Dylan DeLucia hurled a four-hitter in leading the Rebels past Auburn, 5-1, in the College World Series opener for both teams. It was the Rebels’ first opening win in the CWS since 1956. Kevin Graham led the winners with three hits, which included a two-run double and a solo home run. This past Saturday night, the Rebel star was no doubt DeLucia. The junior college transfer from NW Florida retired the first 14 Auburn Tigers and ended the night with 10 strikeouts and did not allow a base on balls. Ole Miss is now 6-0 in the NCAA tournament heading into their game against SEC foe Arkansas in their second game of the tournament. Ole Miss was a team that barely made the NCAA Tournament field and is now one of the hottest teams in the field with six straight post-season wins.

The state of Mississippi has 15 players taking part in the College World Series. Ole Miss leads the list with a dozen hailing from the Magnolia State. Lewisburg pitcher Brady Tyart is pitching for the Arkansas Razorbacks, Brayson Ware is a junior outfielder for the Auburn Tigers while Braden Montgomery is a two-way standout for the Stanford Cardinals. Two Mississippi guys are coaching in the CWS as Amory native Butch Thompson is the head coach of the Auburn Tigers and former Jackson Prep and Hartfield Academy coach Chuck Box is on the Texas A&M staff.

The city of Hattiesburg received some great paydays due to the success of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles baseball. The Golden Eagles scored a rare three-peat by hosting the Conference-USA Baseball Tournament, the NCAA Regional and the Super Regional. The three tournaments had an economic impact of  $20 million on the Hub City coffers.

The Mississippi Braves will head to Biloxi on Tuesday, June 28, for a six-game series against the Shuckers. The Braves are struggling in last place while the Shuckers are playing .500 ball at the moment.

The Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles football team is joining the Sun Belt Conference for this year’s football season. Will Hall has made great strides in filling the talent gap that he found when he arrived in Hattiesburg. This year the Eagles will be favorites in only three games, according to the odds makers. USM will be favorites against Northwestern State, Arkansas State and UL-Monroe. The Eagles are a field goal underdog against Texas State and South Alabama and a touchdown underdog against Georgia State, Troy and Tulane. They are double-digit underdogs against Coastal Carolina, Louisiana Lafayette, Liberty and Miami. Will Hall’s second team has the talent to improve on last year’s 3-9 record. USM will open at home against Liberty on September 3. Their first Sun Belt Conference game will be on October 8 at Troy.

The New Orleans Saints hosted their mandatory minicamp last week. The Saints finished 9-8 last year and barely missed the playoffs. Longtime coach Sean Payton is gone and stepping up is defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. The Saints will have to get healthy on offense as quarterback Jameis Winston is recovering from an ACL injury while former All-Pro wide receiver is still trying to rehab an ankle injury. Another issue could be when and if the legal issues of Alvin Kamara can be resolved. The Saints open against Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Carolina in their opening three weeks of the season that begins on September 11. Former Saints coach Sean Payton is expected to fill in occasionally this year for Jimmy Johnson on the Fox NFL Sunday Football Show.

Southern Mississippi extended the contract of their Director of Athletics in Jeremy McLain for four more years. The former Delta State pitcher came to USM in 2019 and will be leading the Golden Eagles’ exit from Conference USA into the Sun Belt Conference beginning this fall.

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