USM voted four of C-USA’s top baseball honors

USM voted four of C-USA’s top baseball honors
The Golden Eagles will conclude spring drills at noon Saturday with the annual Black and Gold Game at M.M. Roberts Stadium.

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The University of Southern Mississippi, which finished the 2018 baseball season as Conference USA's top team, claimed four of the league's top individual awards.

Junior third baseman Luke Reynolds made conference baseball history by being voted Player of the Year and Newcomer of the Year in the same season.

Junior right-hander Nick Sandlin, who was awarded the 2018 C-Spire Ferriss Trophy Monday as Mississippi's top collegiate baseball player, was voted C-USA's Pitcher of the Year.

USM coach Scott Berry repeated as C-USA's Coach of the Year after guiding the Golden Eagles to a 23-6 conference record and a second consecutive regular-season conference crown.

USM became the first program to sweep player, pitcher and coach of the year honors since Rice University in 2007.

USM (39-15), which won a second consecutive regular-season championship, had three players named first-team All-C-USA, including Reynolds, Sandlin and sophomore outfielder Matt Wallner. It was the third consecutive season USM has had at least three players named first-team All-C-USA.

Redshirt freshman outfielder Gabe Montenegro was voted C-USA All-Freshman, marking the fifth consecutive season at least one Golden Eagle was named C-USA All-Freshman.

Reynolds led the league in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.403), on-base percentage (.558), slugging percentage (.749), total bases (143), runs (67), home runs (15) and walks (56). He was tied for the lead with 19 doubles and ranked third with 58 runs batted in.

Reynolds, who was honored three times as C-USA Hitter of the Week, has reached base in USM's last 28 games. He amassed 25 games this season with two hits or more and 22 games with at least two RBIs.

Reynolds became USM's second C-USA Player of the Year, following 2017's winner, Dylan Burdeaux.

Sandlin, who repeated as a first-team selection after switching from USM's closer to the starting rotation, has gone 8-0 in 13 starts with a 1.25 earned run average. Sandlin has struck out 122 batters and walked just 14 in 86 1/3 innings.

His ERA, WHIP (walks and hits vs. innings pitched) and strikeout-to-walk ratio all rank in the top 10 nationally, and he was honored five times as National Pitcher of the Week.

Berry became the first to earn consecutive Coach of the Year honors since Rice coach Wayne Graham won the award in three consecutive seasons (2006-08). Berry now has won the award three times in his nine-year tenure, becoming just the third C-USA coach to be honored at least that many times.

Wallner, C-USA's Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-C-USA selection in 2017, hit .352 with 12 doubles, 13 home runs and a team-high 59 RBIs.

Montenegro, who has spent most of the season at the top of the Golden Eagles' batting order, hit .302 with 11 doubles, a triple, a home run and 36 RBIs.

USM, the top seed for a second consecutive season, will open the 2018 C-USA Baseball Tournament at 4 p.m. Wednesday against eighth-seeded University of Alabama-Birmingham (21-31) at MGM Park in Biloxi.

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