/Superb candidates abound for Ferriss award

Superb candidates abound for Ferriss award

They have already voted for five finalists. This was the hard part. They now have to choose a winner. The winner will be announced Monday at an awards luncheon at Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. This is not an easy task. This award, named after the late, great David Ferriss, will be presented for the 15th consecutive year. There has never been a greater number of deserving candidates. Could this be the first award given to a Delta State player in honor of the father of Delta State Baseball? Zack Shannon, senior DSU first-baseman, has put up numbers that are bordering on absurd. Shannon has hit a record 29 home runs, with 86 runs batted-in, in only 49 games. Normaly, a guy who hits at such a high rate of power will strike out more often. Shannon has only fanned 27 times and hit at a.425 rate. He would have been a Ferriss winner any other year. However, Nick Sandlin, a junior at Southern Miss, has posted numbers that are as insane for a pitcher. Sandlin, USM’s closest (and an All American the past two seasons), was promoted to the starting rotation this year. His record? His perfect record? 7-0. His earned run average? It is a paltry 1.15. A paltry 1.15. He has walked only 14 batters and struck out 114 batters. He is only being beaten by opponents who are hitting.148. Ryan Olenek is the junior center fielder at Ole Miss, and he’s Mississippi’s best player. Olenek is the leader in hitting for the Southeastern Conference with a.396 batting average. This is roughly.120 more than what he scored as a sophomore. Olenek has only struck out 13 times in 187 bats, which is also the best in the SEC. He leads the Rebels in doubles with 17 runs. Luke Reynolds, a junior third baseman from Southern Miss and a hitting machine, would be the winner of the Ferriss in a normal season. Reynolds, a Mississippi State transfer, hit.392 with 18 runs, 13 home runs, and 54 runs batted-in. Reynolds leads Conference USA with 61 runs in 51 games. He is also a perfect 7-7 in stolen bases. Jake Mangum (Mississippi State junior center fielder) is the fifth finalist. He has already won this award once. As a freshman, he won the award. Although his hitting numbers, at least power-wise, won’t leap out at you as the others, but just one look at him covering the outfield or running the bases and you’ll understand why coaches and scouts voted him a finalist. Mangum is a.342 hitter with 19 doubles, two triples and has stolen 14 bases in 16 attempts. He also leads the nation in highlight-reel and diving catches. Go ahead. You choose. You can actually vote for your favorite. C Spire, www.csopavoting.com, conducts fan voting. This will account for 10 percent of final total with the state’s baseball coaches and pro-scouts (who frequently scout Mississippi colleges) accounting the other 90 percent. State’s Mangum tweeted that he voted Olenek for his Bulldog arch-rival. Is it possible to recall a time when a State voter voted for someone from Ole Miss, or vice versa, for anything? You gotta love college baseball. *** Tickets are available online at www.msfame.com, or by calling 601-982-8264. Jay Powell, Mississippi Sports Hall of Famer, will be the keynote speaker.