The Most Successful Season in Southern Miss Athletics History
The Southern Miss baseball team took a historic step in 2009, taking both the program and the university to the unprecedented
height of competing for the national championship. The Golden Eagles magical run through
the postseason to the mecca of college baseball
captured the hearts of Golden Eagle fans, creating
memories that will last a lifetime.
Southern Miss toppled one heavy favorite
after another to reach the pinnacle of college
baseball. As veteran radio broadcaster John
Cox said over the airwaves as the Golden
Eagles defeated the Florida Gators to punch their
ticket to Omaha, “Southern Miss has dreamed the
It was a scenario better suited for Hollywood
than Hattiesburg—an underdog team, a retiring
coach, and an injured star player replaced by a
freshman. If it were a big budget movie, the script
would have been criticized as cliché.
First, the team suffers the types of losses at
home it has not in years; its struggles at Pete Taylor
Park seem to doom the team to miss the NCAA
Tournament for the first time in seven years.
Second, the team’s starting shortstop, Brian
Dozier, who is the team’s best defensive player
and arguably its best hitter, is hurt; it appears for
Third, Corky Palmer, the team’s coach for the
past 12 years announces he plans to retire at the
end of the season, which it appeared at the time
would come earlier on the calendar than most
Fourth, the team rallies, defeating famed Palmer
nemesis Tulane twice and top-seeded East Carolina
to earn a berth in the Conference USA Tournament
Championship game, where a victory ensures a
seventh-straight NCAA Regional appearance.
The team falls just short and its NCAA hopes
appeared to be dashed. However, the team is
included as one of the final at-large teams in the
tournament. The Golden Eagles head to Atlanta
where they rally in the bottom of the ninth to win
the first game, then wins two-of-three from host
and heavily favored Georgia Tech.
Leading the way is freshman B.A. Vollmuth,
who has replaced Dozier at shortstop. Vollmuth
hits three home runs in the regional, including two
in one innings against Georgia Tech, and is named
the most outstanding player of the regional.
The team earned their first super regional
berth in school history and headed to Gainesville,
Fla., to face nationally seeded Florida. It wins two
narrow contests, the second after falling behind
6-1. Vollmuth hits another home run in game one,
as do seniors Bo Davis and James Ewing in game
two, but the story is on the mound as Jonathan
Johnston and Scott Copeland turn in stunning
relief pitching appearances.
The team advanced to the College World Series,
where it finished its remarkable run. After one last
game, Palmer walks off the field, arm around his
wife, into retirement. Cliché, certainly—but only if
the story was fictional. This story was real; this is the
story of the 2009 Golden Eagle baseball team.
The team finished with a No. 8 final ranking,
the highest ever in school history and brought
home several individual honors as well.
Todd McInnis became the first Golden Eagle to
earn a major C-USA post season award as he was
named the C-USA Pitcher of the Year. The unquestioned ace of the Golden Eagles was 9-4 with a
3. 73 ERA and 90 strikeouts on the season.
Bo Davis earned All-American honors,
leading the team with a .359 average and 14
James Ewing pulled in All-American honors
of a different kind as he earned Academic All-American Honors from ESPN the Magazine and
True freshman Kameron Brunty was named
a freshman All-American by three different publications, the 13th Golden Eagle in the last eight
season to be named a freshman All-American.
Despite missing the second half of the season
Brian Dozier was still recognized by the C-USA
coaches with a spot on the C-USA All-Conference
Dozier, Davis and Ewing were all taken, along
with junior pitcher JR Ballinger, in the Major
League Baseball Draft and turned professional.
Head coach Corky Palmer ended his legendary
career with his team at the pinnacle, in Omaha.
Palmer’s career ended with the Golden Eagles
reaching a NCAA Regional each of his last seven
seasons, but it was getting the 2009 team to
Omaha that will be remembered the most.
It is every player and coaches dream to reach the
College World Series and there was not a more fitting way for Palmer to end his celebrated career than
with his team competing at baseball’s highest level.
2009 truly was a magical season.
Bottom Row: Yoko Shirozu (Student Athletic Trainer), Evan Dauterive (Student Athletic Trainer), Assistant Coach Ricky
Harrelson, Head Coach Corky Palmer, Associate Head Coach Scott Berry, Justin Napoli (Student Manager),
Lackey Simons (Student Manager) Second Row: Pamela Workman (Certified Athletic Trainer), Collin Cargill,
Brian Dozier, Bo Davis, Michael Ewing, Joey Archer, Tyler Koelling, Corey Stevens, Josh Fields, Taylor Walker,
Kyle Lindsey, Bret Shattles Third Row: Jeff Stanley, Wade Weather, Nick Smith., Daniel Covert, Paxton King, Travis Creel,
JR Ballinger, Drake Zimmerman Fourth Row: James Ewing, Cody Schlagel, Kameron Brunty, Anthony Doss,
Moses Munoz, Kyle Maxie, Todd McInnis, Travis Graves Back Row: Derek Copley, Jonathan Johnston, BA Vollmuth,
Matt Warren, Adam Doleac, Scott Copeland, Seth Hester Not Pictured: Assistant Coach Chad Cailliet