Southern Miss Softball Complex – Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles
Photos by Matt Colville, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.86
Southern Miss Softball Complex 500 N 25th Ave Hattiesburg, MS 39401
Year Opened: 2002
Welcome to the Lady Eagle's Roost
The Southern Miss Softball program is one of 15 sports, and one of 8 women's sports, sponsored by the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. For the 2023 Softball season the Golden Eagles join the Sun Belt Conference, after competing since 1999 in Conference USA. The first season of softball at Southern Miss began in 1982 when the Golden Eagles began play in the Metro Conference – due to financial issues the softball program went on hiatus after the 1992 season. When softball was reinstated in 1999, Southern Miss did the unthinkable by advancing to the College World Series back-to-back in 1999 and 2000. The Golden Eagles were led by the arm of perhaps the greatest softball player to ever come through the program in Courtney Blades.
If advancing to the Womens' College World Series in their first year back wasn't enough, the Golden Eagles also didn't have a place to call home until the opening of the Softball Complex in 2002. The softball team had a lot of different homes prior to the opening of the Softball Complex – they used the now intramural fields located on campus until 1992, and in 1999 they played at local city parks. In 2000 and 2001 they played at a local sports complex in Oak Grove called Optimist Park, about 15 minutes away, and since those early years the Golden Eagles haven't had much success on the diamond, winning only two C-USA Tournaments in 2000 and 2001, and winning the C-USA Regular Season in 2000 and 2004. The Lady Eagles have only been to four Regionals, with the most recent one coming in 2004.
Food & Beverage 2
The Southern Miss Complex has one concession stand at the main entrance to the facility; Eagle Bites is the name of the stand and it just sells the basics, such as hot Dogs, hamburgers, nachos, popcorn, pretzels, and assorted candies round out the menu, with prices ranging between $2 and $4. Coke is the official soft drink provider of Southern Miss Athletics with a souvenir cup costing $5, or you can get a 22 oz. soda for $4, or Smartwater for $3. There is also a nice a little area at the front entrance where you could eat your meal at one of two picnic tables.
The Softball Complex sits about a block off campus to the northeast, tucked away along the Long Leaf Trace. The Trace follows the route of a former railroad and is a beautiful, paved trail that runs right through town and continues west for 44 miles. The Trace runs directly through the parking lot at the Softball Complex and continues down the first base line. It is quite scenic on this stretch of the Trace, as on any given spring day you can find many people riding bikes, jogging, or walking dogs along the wooded path.
The main entrance is behind home plate, and you enter into the concessions area. Once inside, the grounds around the complex are kept up and well-manicured. In addition to the small picnic area near the concessions area, there is also a paved pathway under the grandstand on the first base line with rose bushes and ferns lining the path, where you walk up to your seats. Under the third base grandstand is a metal ramp to get to your seating.
The Softball Complex has a dark grey brick exterior with seating for about 1,000 people. Directly behind home plate are about 250 chairback seats, with the rest being metal bleacher seating. The dimensions of the Field are 200-220-200; Southern Miss uses the third base dugouts while the visiting team uses the first base dugouts. A small digital scoreboard sits in left field, while the view beyond the outfield is nothing but trees, except the small party deck in left field under the scoreboard – this is the Diamond Club seating, which is a booster club for the softball program. On any given you day you can find about 15-20 fans out there, with a few of them grilling out. If you look the opposite direction towards campus, the view may look a little better as you have a nice aerial view of campus and M. M. Roberts Stadium in the distance.
There is a table at the front entrance where they give out magnetic softball schedules and posters, and they also have a media guide typed up for that night's matchup.
Hattiesburg (aka The Burg) is a decent-sized city of about 50,000 people, so it has everything you could want in a city and still retains that college town feel. The Burg has a wide selection of bars and restaurants, but unlike most college towns they are not located near each other -- instead they are spread out throughout the city. Within walking distance of campus you'll find places like Patio 44, Brewsky's, and 4th Street Bar – if you’re looking for vintage Southern Miss memorabilia than 4th Street Bar is your place, and is located right on the Long Leaf Trace in front of the Softball Complex. Another popular spot on the Trace about a quarter of a mile away from the Softball Complex is Colludium Brewing Company, Hattiesburg's newest brewery; they have a nice outdoor patio overlooking the Trace which makes for a great spot to have a beer before a softball game. Closer to downtown you'll find popular spots like Keg & Barrel, The Porter, Hattiesburger, Fairley Wings, and Nostalgia.
As a southern city, Hattiesburg has its fair share of restaurants centered on the local fare; popular spots include Crescent City Grill, Brass Hat, Midtown, Chesterfields, Ed's Burger Joint, Stricks, and Murky Waters BBQ. There is also plenty to do for all ages – for families there's the Hattiesburg Zoo and Serenghetti Springs Water Park, while downtown has the popular Pocket Museum, Mississippi's tiniest museum. Located in an alleyway downtown, the popular museum has a different theme each month – we can't tell you where the alley is because that's part of the charm of the Pocket Museum, i.e. being able to find it.
For shopping there are plenty of chain stores and Turtle Creek Mall. Another popular spot is the Lucky Rabbit; located downtown, it's a two-story vintage thrift store with tons of antiques and local Southern Miss memorabilia. If you are into the outdoors, in addition to the Long Leaf Trace there is also Paul B. Johnson State Park, just south of Hattiesburg, which is an excellent spot for camping, while another popular pastime is rafting down the Okatoma River that runs right through Hattiesburg, all the way to the Coast.
Southern Miss averages about 700 fans for softball matchups, which is about average for the Sun Belt Conference. The Complex only holds about 1,000 fans, so it rarely sells out, and you should always be able to find a seat somewhere. The only time the Softball Complex will sell out is when SEC teams come to play here, especially when Ole Miss or Mississippi State visit.
The attendance record was set in 2022 when 1,570 people were in attendance for an Alabama matchup. Softball games do attract a lot of visiting fans, especially for some of those early season non-conference matchups with some of the schools from up north. I attended a game where they played Yale, and there were more Yale fans who had traveled with the team than there were Southern Miss fans. I also attended a conference matchup with Louisiana, and there were more Ragin’ Cajun fans who made that trip as well.
Getting to Hattiesburg shouldn't be a problem, as it is one of the more accessible cities in the state, located about an hour and a half from the Coast, New Orleans, Jackson, or Mobile. If coming from out of town the main road into The Burg is I-59; once in town the main two roads in Hattiesburg are Highway 49 and Hardy Street, with Southern Miss’ campus sitting right on the corner of the two. Depending on the time of day Hattiesburg is notorious for traffic, especially on Hardy Street, so plan accordingly, as many of the weekday softball games start in the mid-afternoon.
The Softball Complex sits tucked away on the back side of campus to the east of Highway 49. The best way to get to the Complex is to take the 4th Street exit off Highway 49, and the Complex sits right behind 4th Street Bar. There is plenty of parking on site, and once inside the stadium you should have no problem moving around. My favorite way to get to the Softball Complex is to park on campus and bike down the Long Leaf Trace to the game.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets are $8 for a General Admission ticket, which is about average for this level of college softball. You are free to sit anywhere you want in the stands, which is always a plus. The stadium is the perfect size to see everything, and if you want to sit in one of the 250 chairback seats you are free to do so.
I considered this a good return on investment – there is a chance you could be watching a potential Women's College World Series team as well. The Golden Eagles are off to a hot start in 2023, and who knows? This might be the year the Golden Eagles make it to Oklahoma City for the third time.
One mention for Southern Miss advancing to the Women's College World Series in back-to-back years in 1999 and 2000. The closest the school has ever gotten to a National Title in any sport was in the 2000 Women's College World Series, when the Lady Eagles made it to the WCWS semi-finals, but lost to UCLA 6-0.
The Lady Eagles are also one of three teams in the Sun Belt Conference who have advanced to the Women's College World Series (James Madison and Louisiana are the other two schools) – James Madison went once in 2021, and UL has been six times between 1993 and 2014.
The Southern Miss Softball Complex has also hosted the C-USA Softball Tournament once in 2017, which was won by Louisiana Tech. Southern Miss also hosted the C-USA Softball Tournament in 2000, but it was played at Oak Grove Optimist Park. The 2000 Tournament had two teams make it to the WCWS that year, the other being DePaul, who also went in 1999. I recently made the trip out to Optimist Park and found the field that hosted the Softball games that season; I have included a picture of it here:
And of course, a mention for the Long Leaf Trace providing the scenic backdrop of all the Southern Miss athletic venues. I always enjoy it when the Southern Miss baseball and softball teams are both playing home games on the same day; it is possible to hop on a bike at the Softball Complex and ride all the way to the baseball stadium, Pete Taylor Park, along the Trace.