HATTIESBURG — Corky Palmer has been a lot of places and seen a lot of things.
But the moment the former Southern Miss baseball coach stepped onto the field at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., on June 12 is one he’ll never forget as long as he lives.
“The one moment that sticks out for me was during the Friday night ceremony,” Palmer said. “When our team went through the gate and there were 15,000 people there, to see your flag flying between Arizona State and North Carolina, that’s pretty special.”
The Golden Eagles were one of only eight teams in the country to advance to last year’s College World Series, and on Saturday the players, coaches and staff were rewarded with rings to signify being the first team in school history to make it to Omaha.
“To be the first (Southern Miss) team in history to get to the College World Series, we felt like they deserved rings for accomplishing arguably the greatest sporting achievement in the history of Southern Miss athletics,” said Palmer, who retired after the season and was replaced by longtime assistant Scott Berry.
The Southern Miss players from the CWS team were honored during halftime of Saturday night’s football game at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Brian Dozier went out in April with what was initially supposed to be a season-ending injury. But because the team advanced to the College World Series, the popular Dozier saw some playing time at Omaha.
“I kept telling everybody, I knew I’d be ready for the College World Series,” he said. “Sometimes you just kind of say those things to get people motivated. But then after the Regional (at Georgia Tech), you started seeing it all come together. It was an awesome ride.”
Dozier, who spent this summer playing in the Minnesota Twins organization, said it’s been difficult to get away from talk of the Golden Eagles’ historic postseason run.
“Everybody always brought it up when I was playing this summer,” he said. “All it does is bring a smile to my face. I’m just the happiest guy, not only from a personal standpoint, but for what we did for the university. Everybody coming together and making it happen for coach Palmer’s and my last go-round, it was truly miraculous.”
Starting pitcher Todd McInnis echoed Dozier’s sentiments.
“We just had a lot of ups and downs throughout the year,” said McInnis, who will return for his senior season. “But this team just had that never-say-die attitude. There were so many things we could’ve let get to us and keep us down. But we just kept getting back up and kept fighting. That’s what this team was about.”
The Golden Eagles lost two straight games in Omaha, but sophomore outfielder Kameron Brunty said having the opportunity to play in the College World Series was simply a dream come true.
“It was amazing,” he said. “It’s always been a dream to play at Rosenblatt Stadium. Just being able to play there with some of the best teams in the country was just awesome. Words can’t describe it.”
Jason Munz/The Hattiesburg American