Coach Denson recalled the program twenty five years ago, long before the beautiful facilities and national attention. "This is something we always dreamed about in the beginnings of this program. This program was built with the goal of one day making it to the College World Series. It is wonderful to see our dreams happening before us."
Denson is a NCAA representative at regional's and super regional's every year, and was assigned to Atlanta for the regional even before knowing Southern Miss was going there. "I was thrilled, just ticked to death to see USM coming to Atlanta. Corky Palmer and I are great friends and keep in touch weekly. Then to see the run they made there, just amazing."
The run didn't stop in Atlanta. Denson was in Oxford as the NCAA representative for that regional, but was getting half inning updates by text while the Eagles were playing in Gainesville, Florida. "I then rushed to see the 8th inning and the three runs that were scored." Reflecting on the win, he paused, and said with pride, "This is one of the biggest things that has happened in USM athletics. It brings great pride to the USM community and family."
Further reflecting on the impact of the win, he added, "These are the type of wins that are a tremendous shot in the arm for any program. It is great publicity for the school, and incredible for recruiting. Any time you can tell a recruit, ‘hey we've been to Omaha,' it can only be a great help in getting players."
On an interesting note, Coach Denson was the NCAA representative for the Long Beach regional last year. There was a particular team he watched last year in that regional that scraped into the NCAA regional with a #4 seed. That team was Fresno State. The Bulldogs went on to win that regional, then win a super regional, and then win a National Championship, capping one of the greatest runs in college baseball history.
Does Denson think we could see a repeat of that this year in the Golden Eagles?
"People need to understand that this team has always been capable of playing with and beating anyone. They just had to have some confidence and the ball bounce their way. They have as good of a shot as any of going to Omaha and bringing back a National Championship."