Southern Miss promotes Ostrander to baseball head coach

Published 7:09 pm Sunday, May 21, 2023

Southern Miss did not wait long — or look far — for its next baseball head coach.

The university announced Sunday that it has promoted pitching coach Christian Ostrander to head coach, to replace the retiring Scott Berry.

Ostrander is in his sixth season as Southern Miss’ pitching coach, and has been the associate head coach for the past two years. He’ll continue in both roles until the end of this season while Berry finishes out his long tenure.

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Ostrander becomes the 14th head coach in Southern Miss history and only the fifth since 1959, following Pete Taylor (1959-83), Hill Denson (1984-1997), Corky Palmer (1998-2009) and Berry (2010-2023).

“I am extremely honored and humbled for the opportunity to be the next head baseball coach at The University of Southern Mississippi,” Ostrander said in a release announcing the hire. “The rich tradition that had been built here over the years by Coach (Pete) Taylor, Coach (Hill) Denson, Coach (Corky) Palmer, and Coach Berry is truly incredible and admirable. It is with great excitement and great privilege to lead this program moving forward.”

Ostrander has helped lead the Golden Eagles to four NCAA regional berths, mentoring one National Pitcher of the Year; two Dick Howser and Golden Spikes national semifinalists; two Ferriss Trophy winners for top player in the state of Mississippi; five different All-Americans; one Freshman All-American; and three Conference USA Pitchers of the Year.

In 2022, Ostrander was named the C-USA Assistant Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Despite losing 12 pitchers off last year’s roster, Ostrander helped assemble another outstanding staff this spring. Led by Tanner Hall, who has posted an 11-3 record, Southern Miss led the Sun Belt Conference through the regular season in all games in earned run average (4.84), opposing batting average (.241), hits allowed (422), runs allowed (282), and walks allowed (216). They also finished second in strikeouts (540) and third in saves (16).

Ostrander had previous stops as the pitching coach at Delta State and Louisiana Tech, and was the head coach at Jones College for seven years. He led Jones to two MACJC state championships in 2011 and 2014. The 2011 team finished as the NJCAA Division II national runner-up.

“Christian brings not only an outstanding track record to the position, but also the commitment, accountability, and character we have grown to expect from our baseball program,” Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain said in a statement. “As a Golden Eagle, he has been a major part of our success over the past six years and is well respected around the country for his work on and off the field.”

Berry announced his retirement last week, and will remain as head coach through the end of the season. Southern Miss (37-16) is the No. 2 seed for this week’s Sun Belt Conference tournament and appears likely to land an NCAA Tournament berth as well.

Southern Miss’ first game in the Sun Belt tournament is Wednesday at 12:30 p.m., against either Old Dominion, James Madison, Georgia Southern or Georgia State. Those four teams, seeded Nos. 7-10, play a single-elimination round on Tuesday. The lowest-seeded team to come out of that round will face No. 1 seed Coastal Carolina when the double-elimination round begins Wednesday. The highest-seeded team remaining will face Southern Miss.