Best also earned All-American distinction in
2005, when he recorded 11 saves with a 3-0
record and a 0.46 ERA. He was a finalist for
the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award in
2005 and was drafted in the 14th round of
the Major League Baseball amateur draft by
Two of Berry’s pitchers, Ryan Belanger
and Cliff Russum, registered eight wins in
2006 and the team’s ERA improved from
5. 13 in 2005 to 4. 80 last season. Southern
Miss struck out 416 batters and walked
only 211. Catcher Kevin Coker earned All-Conference USA honors and senior Scott
Massey also was drafted in the 24th round
In 2005, Patrick Ezell, the Conference
USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year, led the
starters with seven wins against just three
losses, while Matt Caire followed with a 6-3
record. Relief pitcher Tyler Perrett led the
way with a 5-0 record in 24 appearances.
Catcher Brad Willcutt, one of the best to
ever play behind the dish at Southern Miss,
was selected as a third-team All-American as
a senior and was drafted in the 27th round
In 2004, two of Berry’s pitchers finished
with eight or more wins and four finished
with six or more wins. The staff posted
468 strikeouts and only 224 walks. Senior
Austin Tubb was named to several All-American teams, the CoSIDA Academic
All-American team and was drafted by the
St. Louis Cardinals. Senior Anthony De Witt
was named to the Conference USA second team and was drafted by the Houston
Astros. Freshman Patrick Ezell was named a
Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American,
and fellow freshman Mike Cashion was
named to the C-USA All-Freshman team as
well as the C-USA All-Tournament team.
In his first year as the pitching coach
in 2003, Berry worked with a staff that
produced four hurlers with eight-or-more
victories and a sparkling 3. 45 ERA, the top
in Conference USA. That staff recorded
460 strikeouts, walked just 219, and limited opponents to a .257 batting average.
Austin Tubb was named to the NCBWA
All-American team and Bob McCrory was
named to the All-CUSA team.
When Berry mentored the Golden Eagle
hitters, fans saw the batting average improve
from .279 during the 2001 season to a .304
average in 2002. The Golden Eagles had
seven players hit .300 or better and three
players with 40 or more
RBIs. And even with
Berry working primarily
in other areas, that hitting
success carried over to
the 2003 season when
Southern Miss hitters
compiled a .319 batting
average, with eight play-
ers finishing at .300 or
better. Golden Eagle hit-
ters banged out 89 home
runs and 142 doubles.
their season ended. Berry’s first stint with
Palmer started in 1991, when he was hired
as an assistant coach at Meridian. After a
six-year tenure as the assistant coach, he
took over the reins of the Meridian program,
when Palmer returned to Southern Miss to
join Hill Denson’s staff.
He completed his bachelors degree in
secondary education with an emphasis in
physical education from Southwest Missouri
State University in 1986 and also received
his master’s degree from SMSU in 1989 with
a degree in secondary education with an
emphasis in administration.
His collegiate career began at Crowder
College, where he was a two-time all-region
selection as a catcher and was named the
team’s most valuable player as a sophomore.
Berry was forced to end his playing career
early with a back injury. He spent the last
two years of his undergraduate tenure as a
student assistant at SMSU.
Berry, and his wife, Laura, have two
children, Garren, and Kathryn (Kitty Grace).
Laura received her bachelors and masters
degrees from Southern Miss in speech communication. He is the son of Marilyn Berry
and the late James Berry of Neosho, Mo.