After beginning her career at Georgia, Lacey Sumerlin needed a change of scenery. She sat out the 2018 season, committed to Southern Miss during the spring, and was officially announced as one of the newest Golden Eagles later that summer.
The 2019 season marked Sumerlin’s first on the field with the Golden Eagles, and she made her presence known in Conference USA right away. Against conference foes, the right-handed infielder batted .394 with a 1.320 OPS and .803 slugging percentage. She hit nine home runs on the year, including six in league play, and recorded forty-one RBIs.
Following her impressive 2019 campaign, Sumerlin was named a first-team All-CUSA selection and also earned a nod to the NFCA’s All-South Region first-team. She ended the year in the top ten in Conference USA in six statistical categories, including slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
In late January, Sumerlin was selected to the C-USA Preseason All-Conference Team, one of six infielders selected to the team.
Sumerlin recently sat down with us to talk about her career and her goals and expectations for her final collegiate season.
Justin’s World of Softball: How did you get started playing softball?
Lacey Sumerlin: My dad and I used to play whiffle ball in the house when I was about three years old. I eventually got to the point where I broke things. My mom decided to sign me up for T-ball and it all started from there. I don’t think I ever missed a season from then on.
JWOS: Tell me about the decision to transfer [from Georgia]; how tough of a decision was that for you to make? What made you decide on Southern Miss as your new “home”?
Sumerlin: It was a tough decision for sure. I didn’t make that decision on a whim, and thought on it for a long time. I prayed about it and knew in my heart that transferring was best for me, and I wish the Georgia softball program nothing but the best. I am extremely grateful to have found a home at Southern Miss. There was just something about this place; the staff, the town, and the team that told me this would be the best fit for me. I am thankful that I crossed paths with Southern Miss and found my love for the game all over again.
JWOS: Can you tell me about the transition from the SEC to Conference USA? Was that an easier or more difficult transition than you initially thought?
Sumerlin: It wasn’t a hard transition at all. People don’t see Conference USA as a “flashy” conference because our resources aren’t the same as the SEC, but that doesn’t mean that the talent and level of play within this conference is any lesser or easier. Good competition is good competition regardless of which conference patch is on your jersey or your opponent’s.
JWOS: Tell me about your gameday routine. Any pregame rituals? Specific preparations to face a certain lineup or hitter?
Sumerlin: I have almost made it a big part of my gameday routine to swing through Starbucks on my way to the stadium. I’m certainly not the type to listen to rock or rap music to get me hype. I’ll listen to country music while drinking my coffee and that typically puts me in a level-headed mindset. I typically try to stay away from hitting too much and getting “mechanical” during pre-game warm ups¬¬. Of course, I want to be loose but I’ve either got it or I don’t by pregame, I want to head into the game with a clear head. As a team, we will prepare for other teams’ pitchers and hitters. There isn’t anything specific that I do personally; it truly depends on the opponent and situation.
JWOS: What is your favorite moment or memory from your career to this point?
Sumerlin: Man, that’s a tough one. I’m not sure if you mean my collegiate career or my career in its entirety so I’ll give you both. I used to have the best time playing for my travel team, the West Mobile Express. We were good, and I mean really good. We were really talented, but we had so much chemistry that not only did it make us even better, it brought so much joy along the way. We had tiki bars, boom boxes, and so much more that we brought to tournaments. A lot of those girls will be bridesmaids in my wedding this fall, and I truly cherish those memories with them.
My favorite memories in my collegiate career at Southern Miss are not even the ones that have happened on the field. There are plenty of great ones there too, but the ones I will always cherish the most are the hotel conversations, bus ride karaoke, tarp sliding, and the many, many times I have laughed until I cried.
Softball has brought me so many relationships that have contributed to numerous memories that I will always look back on and smile. My career comes to an end this year, and as cliché as it sounds, those memories will last me a lifetime.
JWOS: What are your goals, both for yourself and for your team, that you’d like to accomplish during the 2020 season?
Sumerlin: As a team, our goal is to win the last game of our season. The only team that wins the last game of their season is the team holding the WCWS trophy at the end of the season. We certainly have the ability to do so, so stay tuned. My personal goal for the year is to do whatever it takes in my role on this team to help our team accomplish the goal we have all set together.
JWOS: If there was one thing that you have not yet accomplished in your career that you could ’check off the list’ in 2020, what would it be?
Sumerlin: That’s the toughest question, and I ask myself this all the time. There is so much I want to accomplish this year with these girls and the amazing coaching staff I have been blessed with for my final season. The ultimate accomplishment would be ending my career as a national champion. That’s what I want for this team and that’s really the only box I have on my “checklist”. If we do that, then we have done everything else along the way. We have worked extremely hard and it is going to be one heck of a season with this team; the sky is truly the limit for Southern Miss softball.