USM lands 2 among Ferris Trophy finalists

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi junior third baseman Luke Reynolds and junior pitcher Nick Sandlin are among five finalists for the 2018 C-Spire Ferris Trophy.

The award, named for long-time Delta State University baseball coach David "Boo" Ferris, is given annually to Mississippi's most outstanding college baseball player.

College coaches and Major League Baseball scouts make up about 90 percent of the voting. Fans account for the other 10 percent.

USM is the only school with two finalists and Sandlin is the lone pitcher among the candidates.

Other finalists include University of Mississippi outfielder Ryan Olenek, Mississippi State outfielder Jake Mangum and DSU first baseman Zack Shannon.

The winner will be named at a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. on May 21 at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in Jackson.

"This year may be the toughest choice in this history of the event," Hall of Fame executive director Bill Blackwell said in a statement. "With so many schools ranked nationally at all levels, you know there must be great players throughout the state."

Sandlin (7-0), who is in first season as a starting pitcher for 18th-ranked USM after serving as the Golden Eagles' closer his first two years, boasts the third-best earned run average in the nation (1.15) among Division I pitchers. The right-hander has struck out 114 and walked just 14 in 78 1/3 innings.

Reynolds leads Conference USA in batting average (.384), home runs (13) and runs batted in (53).

Olenek tops the Southeastern Conference with a .396 batting average for the 5th-ranked Rebels. That's the 19th-best batting average in the nation among Division I hitters.

Mangum leads the Bulldogs with a .342 batting average. He has 19 doubles and 14 stolen bases.

Shannon leads Division II with 29 home runs and leads the Statesmen with a .425 batting average and 86 RBIs.

Fans can cast votes at through noon Saturday.