Even though he has solidified himself as a starter, he still remains humble and feels like he owes a lot to his teammates and coaches.
"I couldn't have done it without Coach Berry, he has been great," says the junior out of East Central High School "I have really learned from the other guys and that is what this has been, a learning experience."
JR knows that he has had a great season, but he knows that there is a lot that he can work on, especially developing a third pitch.
"I definitely need to develop a better third pitch. I think that would make me a lot better so that is what I am going to work on."
Ballinger was disappointed with the series this past weekend, but still feels that this is a good team, overall, and still has a chance at something big.
"I think that we have played well," says Ballinger "It was a tough series loss this weekend, but we have to just come back and fight and win this weekend."
It has been shaky in the rotation behind Ballinger, but he has been really impressed with two guys in particular.
"Todd McInnis, man, when he is healthy he is amazing. Also, when Kyle Lindsey is on he is very good as well."
The bullpen for Southern Miss has been a big problem, but JR still has faith in his relievers and doesn't let it change his approach.
"I know that everybody out there has my back, so I just go out there and throw my game and I have faith that they can come in and get the job done."
The run support that JR has gotten has been really helpful for him. He feels like he needs to pitch better, though, when the offense is having a good day.
"It has been great getting all of that run support, but I feel like when we do I don't pitch well enough to win, but we go out there and do what we have to do."
USM is up against the ropes right now in terms of postseason play, but JR still has hope that they can make a late run.
"We just need to take it one game at a time, heck, we probably need to narrow it down to one pitch at a time."
With the announcement that Corky Palmer will retire at the end of the season, JR feels like that gives him a little extra motivation to go out there and work hard to send him off right.
"Coach Palmer is a great guy and probably one of the greatest coaches that I have ever played under. He has had a great career and we just have to go out there and fight for him and fight for the seniors."
JR will take the mound in the series opener at Memphis later on today. First pitch is set for 6:30pm.