JACKSON — This year, the field for the 15th Annual C Spire Ferriss Trophy was considered by many to be the most competitive field in the history of the award.
When Hu Meena, Chief Executive Officer of C Spire, announced the winner of 15th C Spire Ferriss Trophy, he called the name of Southern Miss pitcher Nick Sandlin here Monday afternoon at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Sandlin is the third Southern Miss player to win the award.
The Ferriss Trophy, named after the late Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer and former longtime Delta State head baseball coach Dave “Boo” Ferriss, goes to the top college baseball player in the state at a four-year institution.
Sandlin’s work on the mound has been amazing as he is 8-0 with a 1.25 ERA in 13 starts with two complete game shutouts. He has given 15 runs, 12 earned, on just 47 hits with 122 strikeouts and 14 walks 86.1 innings of work. Out of the 47 hits surrendered only two have been for home runs. Opponents are hitting just .156 against him. Sandlin currently leads Division I in fewest walks and hits given up per inning (0.71). He is also second in the nation in ERA (1.25), eighth in strikeouts, eighth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (8.71) and 13th in strikeouts per nine innings (12.72). Sandlin, at one point, had a string of 31 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings pitched.
The other four finalists were Delta State senior first baseman Zack Shannon, Ole Miss junior outfielder/infielder Ryan Olenek, Southern Miss junior third baseman Luke Reynolds and Mississippi State junior outfielder Jake Mangum. Shannon was named the Gulf South Conference Player of the Year and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association South Region Player of the Year for a second straight year.
On Tuesday in the South Region Tournament, Shannon became the first player in Mississippi collegiate baseball history at a four-year school to hit 30 home runs. After 53 games, Shannon currently leads all classifications of NCAA baseball in home runs (31) and RBIs (93). Along with leading in home runs in RBIs, he leads all Division II in slugging percentage (.955). He also has a .504 on-base percentage, while leading the GSC in batting average (.406), hits (82) and runs scored (73).
Reynolds was named Conference USA Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year as he leads C-USA in batting average (.403), home runs (15), slugging percentage (.749), on-base percentage (.558), runs scored (67) and tied for the lead in doubles (19). He also has 58 RBIs.
Olenek is on top of the Southeastern Conference in batting average (.373), tied for third in hits (76) and tied for fourth in doubles (17), while Mangum is first in the SEC in hits (82), tied for second in doubles (20), fifth in batting average (.350), tied for seventh in stolen bases (17) and tied for ninth in runs scored.
“I’m just honored to be here with these guys having great seasons and obviously their teams are having great seasons,” Sandlin said. “I’m very honored to be here and really happy to be here.”
Sandlin was a closer last year as he went 10-2 out of the bullpen with eight saves and a 2.38 ERA in 29 appearances. He gave up 41 hits with 80 strikeouts and 29 walks in 56.2 innings of work.
“Whether its just keeping the pitch counts down or having to command the zone in different ways or figuring out how to get guys out two, three or four times in one game is a lot different than being able to go out there and exert your energy for one inning,” Sandlin said. “A lot of things have changed, but I’ve had a good staff to be able to help me out through it. Coach Oz (Christian Ostrander) is a great pitching coach to be able to help me with the change.”
In the C Spire Ferriss Trophy fan vote, Olenek won with 5,033 votes, followed by Mangum (3,260), Shannon (1,669), Reynolds (838) and Sandlin (350).
Sandlin and Shannon are two of the 25 semifinalists for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award.