Ex-Viking Douglas being watched for Smith Award

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 25, 2002

[04/255/02]Shea Douglas has already established himself as one of the best pitchers in Conference USA.

Now, the Southern Mississippi junior left-hander is being considered one of the best players in the country.

Douglas, a former Warren Central star, and USM teammate Jeff Cook are on the watch list for the 2002 Rotary Smith Award, which is given annually to the nation’s finest collegiate baseball player.

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At 8-1, Douglas is tops in C-USA in victories, third in strikeouts (78) and second in ERA (2.11). He is first on his team in those categories as well as innings thrown (88-1/3).

Cook leads the team with an average of .439, 11 home runs, 44 RBIs and a .596 slugging percentage.

Mississippi State pitcher Paul Maholm is among 19 college players invited to the USA Baseball National Team trials in June.

The tryouts will take place in Tucson, Ariz., June 18-23.

The team will play a 30-game summer schedule, including trips to the Netherlands and Italy.

Maholm, a left-hander, is one of only three Southeastern Conference players among the initial invitees. The sophomore is 7-1 with a 3.34 ERA.

The USA National Team will be selected from a pool of 35-40 players and announced June 24.

The Smith Award, in its 15th year, went to Southern Cal pitcher Mark Prior last year.

All 12 of last year’s semifinalists were drafted, so there will be a new cast of candidates this year.

Voting for semifinalists will begin in mid-May and three finalists will be announced before Super Regionals start June 7-9.

The award dinner will be in Houston.