Golden Eagles sweep Conference USA awards

Published 4:55 pm Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A day after winning the Ferriss Trophy, Southern Miss’ baseball team added a whole heap of hardware to its collection.

Third baseman Luke Reynolds was named the Conference USA Player and Newcomer of the Year, Nick Sandlin won the Pitcher of the Year award, and Scott Berry was the Coach of the Year, the league announced Tuesday.

The vote includes the 12 league head coaches and baseball sports information directors, as well as one media member from each league school.

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Southern Miss is the first school to win the Player, Pitcher and Coach of the Year awards in the same season since Rice in 2007.

Reynolds and Sandlin joined outfielder Matt Wallner on the All-C-USA first team. Outfielder Gabe Montenegro was on the All-Freshman team.

Reynolds is the first person to win the Player and Newcomer Award in the same season. He leads Conference USA in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.403), on-base percentage (.558), slugging percentage (.749), total bases (143), runs scored (67), home runs (15) and walks (56).

Reynolds is tied for the lead in doubles with 19 and third in RBIs with 58. He enters the C-USA Tournament having reached base in 28 consecutive games, and also has 25 multiple-hit and 22 multiple-RBI outings.

Reynolds is the second consecutive Southern Miss player to win the Player of the Year award. Dylan Burdeaux won it last year.

Sandlin, who on Monday won the Ferriss Trophy as the best player in Mississippi, has an 8-0 record in 13 starts. He has struck out 122 batters, while walking just 14.

His league-leading ERA of 1.25, WHIP and strikeout-to-walk ratios all rank in the Top 10 nationally. Sandlin, who was 6-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 81 strikeouts in conference games, earned National Pitcher of the Week honors five times and the C-USA Pitcher of the Week award four times this season. He is also a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Trophy, given to the best player in college baseball.

After leading Southern Miss to its fifth Conference USA regular season championship and second in a row, Berry earned the Keith LeClair Coach of the Year award.

The Golden Eagles’ 23-6 mark in conference play gave them 48 league victories in the last two seasons. They are the first team to win 23 or more games in back-to-back seasons.

The Golden Eagles have been ranked in the top 15 of the national polls all season, are the top hitting team in C-USA in eight categories, including average (.305) and runs scored (449), and have the third-lowest team earned run average (3.66).

Berry is the first skipper to be named the Keith LeClair Coach of the Year in consecutive years since Rice’s Wayne Graham won it three straight times from 2006-08. This is Berry’s third C-USA Coach of the Year honor, making him the third person to accomplish that in league history.