When I saw the C Spire Ferriss Trophy finalists, I thought about the 2004 year, which was the first year the award was introduced.
I thought about Delta State outfielder and former Bayou Academy standout Jud Thigpen. That season, he hit an impressive .429 with 14 home runs, 80 RBIs, 75 runs scored, 24 doubles, two triples with a .697 slugging percentage and a .502 on-base percentage. He was 20-of-21 in stolen base and finished the year with an amazing total of 112 hits in 261 at-bats over 65 games.
He hit safely in 56 of those 65 games with 35 multiple hit games. He even had a 6-for-6 performance with nine RBIs, a home run and two runs scored in a 24-2 win over Southern Arkansas in the championship game of the NCAA Division II South Central Region Tournament to send the Statesmen to the World Series, a World Series, which they won. Another important part of his game was defense as he didn’t' commit a single error. He was named Division II Player of the Year.
The Ferriss Trophy nominations are released during the year. The biggest thing about the first Ferriss Trophy I remember was Thigpen wasn’t a finalist. That’s right, he was not named as one of the three finalists.
When I saw the finalists for this year's award, I just thought about that first one and remembering Thigpen wasn't announced.
The 112 hits is DSU's current record for hits in a season. I've been doing research to see if anyone has ever had 112 hits in a season. So far, I've looked at school records from Ole Miss, MSU, Southern Miss, Mississippi College, Belhaven, William Carey and Blue Mountain and none of those schools have ever had anyone with that many hits.
I'm still checking with other schools, so I'm not quite sure if that mark is a state record but I haven't seen anybody with that total yet.
Thigpen truly had one of the great seasons this state has ever seen in college baseball. His level of all-around greatness is something that's rarely ever reached on any level of ball and for some reason; he wasn't one of the finalists. I know people could argue what competition is tougher D1, D2, D3, etc., but I truly believe Thigpen was the best all-around player in the state that year at any level.
It seems like in college baseball or any sport, if doesn’t happen in big-time Division I athletics, we dismiss it. That's truly sad if that’s the case. Greatness can happen anywhere with people in places you never thought it would happen. If you can play, you can play. Delta State baseball defines greatness.
In the years since the first Ferriss Trophy, DSU has had six players nominated for the Ferriss Trophy with senior first baseman Zack Shannon being the most recent player. When the finalists were announced Monday, Shannon became the first Statesman to be nominated twice.
DSU has won conference championships, region championships, and a national championship but hasn't been able to have a player snag the elusive Ferriss Trophy.
This year, in almost every offensive category, Shannon has dominated the state. His 29 home runs tied the state record set by Mississippi State's Bruce Castoria (1981) and Rafeal Palmeiro (1984). He's done it in just 50 games and he's driven in 87 runs with a .416 batting average. He's driven in at least one run in 38 games this season and has hit at least one home run in 24 games. He's earned Gulf South Conference Player of the Year for a second straight year. What's he's done is a true example of greatness.
Reaching the 29 home runs didn't go unnoticed as Palmeiro himself tweeted Shannon and congratulated him on tying the record. When a guy like Palmeiro, who had an awesome Major League career, gives you a compliment like that you've done something.
If anyone thinks Shannon’s talent and production are just because he’s playing Division II, think again. Shannon, along with fellow finalist Southern Miss pitcher Nick Sandlin, has been named to the Golden Spikes Watch List, which includes players from the major Division I conferences.
Looking at the finalists, in my opinion, Shannon is the best. At the end of the day, however, that's not my call.
The fan vote counts for 10 percent and Major League scouts and college coaches make up 90 percent. Fan vote deadline is by noon Saturday and the award will be announced Monday.
I just want to say those deciding the award, whatever decision you make, look at the whole picture and look at what makes these players great. The greatness is in the players themselves not in the division they play in.
Here at the stats from 2004 and 2018
Ferriss Trophy nominees
*Ole Miss’ Stephen Head,
.346 avg., 13 HR, 53 RBI, 41 runs, 13 doubles, 1 triple, 79 hits, .583 slugging, .419 on-base, 0-0 stolen bases, .979 fielding, 10 errors, 476 total chances, 60 games.
Pitching, 6-3, 2.82 ERA, 70.1 IP, 68 hits, 22 runs, 22 earned, 56 strikeouts, 19 walks, .255 OBA.
Mississippi State's Brad Corley
.380 avg., 19 HR, 55 RBI, 60 runs, 12 doubles, 2 triples, 93 hits, .678 slugging, .442 on-base, 4-6 stolen bases, .963 fielding, 4 errors, 107 total chances, 59 games.
0-0, 0.00 ERA, 7 appearances, 1 SV, 6.2 IP, 5 hits, 0 runs, 0 earned, 8 strikeouts, 4 walks, .227 OBA
Southern Miss' Jarrett Hoffpauir
.405 average, 11 home runs, 92 RBIs, 62 runs, 27 doubles, 2 triples, 109 hits, .643 slugging, .438 on-base percentage, 2-5 stolen bases,.982 fielding percentage, 6 errors, 332 total chances, 64 games.
Delta State's Jud Thigpen
429 average, 14 HR, 80 RBIs, 75 runs, 24 doubles, two triples, a .697 slugging percentage, a .502 on-base percentage, 20-21 in stolen bases, 1.000 fielding pct., 138 total chances.
Ferriss Trophy nominees
Delta State first baseman Zack Shannon
.416 avg., 29 HR, 87 RBI, 71 runs, 79 hits, 14 doubles, 2 triples, .968 slugging, .513 on-base, 0-of-0 stolen bases .983 fielding pct., 7 errors, 403 total chances, 50 games
Southern Miss pitcher Nick Sandlin
8-0 record, 1.25 ERA, 13 GS, 86.1 IP, 47 H, 15 R, 12 ER, 122 SO, 14 BB, 2 HR, .156 OBA
Southern Miss third baseman Luke Reynolds
.391 avg., 13 HR, 54 RBI, 61 runs, 72 hits, 18 doubles, 1 triple, .712 slugging, .546 on-base, 7-of-8 stolen bases, .950 fielding pct., 6 errors, 120 total chances, 52 games
Ole Miss outfielder/infielder Ryan Olenek
.388 avg., 3 HR, 26 RBI, 31 runs, 76 hits, 17 doubles, 0 triples, .520 slugging, .423 on-base, 9-of-16 stolen bases, .955 fielding pct., 5 errors, 111 total chances, 50 games
Mississippi State University outfielder Jake Mangum
.345 avg., 0 HR, 21 RBI, 46 runs, 78 hits, 19 doubles, 3 triples, .456 slugging, .422 on-base, 14-of-16 stolen bases, .986 fielding, 2 errors, 142 total chances, 53 games.
The website for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy fan vote is http://www.csopavoting.com. Deadline is Saturday at 12 p.m.