Southern Miss pitcher Tanner Hall wins Ferriss Trophy

Published 5:44 pm Monday, May 23, 2022

JACKSON — Last June, with his team battling Ole Miss in an elimination game in the NCAA Tournament’s Oxford Regional, Southern Miss coach Scott Berry gave the ball to an unproven freshman.

Tanner Hall responded with five shutout innings to lead the Golden Eagles to a 10-7 victory and, right then and there, Berry said he knew he had something special.

“He came in in relief, covered five innings, had great stuff, was under the moment on a huge stage and he handled it so well. Then he picked up in the fall from where he left off,” Berry said. “It was evident that he was going to be our weekend (starter).”

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Hall quickly went from the best player in Oxford on that day, to the best pitcher on Southern Miss’ talented staff, and then to the best player in one of the best college baseball states in the country.

The sophomore right-hander from Zachary, La., was honored Monday as the winner of the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, given to the top college baseball player in Mississippi.

Hall is the fourth Southern Miss player to win the award, joining pitchers Nick Sandlin (2018) and James McMahon (2015), and outfielder Tyler Koelling (2011).

Hall beat out four other finalists to win the award — Tim Elko of Ole Miss, R.J. Yeager of Mississippi State, Harrison Haley of Delta State and Brett Sanchez of Belhaven.

“It’s an honor. I didn’t really expect anything like this. It’s crazy,” Hall said. “This event is something that I couldn’t even imagine being at. It’s a huge honor to be a part of it. To win it is insane.”

Hall began the 2022 season as Southern Miss’ midweek starter but did not stay in that role for long. A string of dominant performances in the first month of the season landed him the role of Friday night ace for the Conference USA season opener against Florida Atlantic on March 18.

From there, Hall lived up to the job.

Hall pitched at least seven innings in five consecutive starts and was twice named the Conference USA Pitcher of the Week. He finished the regular season with a 7-2 record and 2.68 ERA in 15 total appearances. Opponents are hitting just .227 against him.

“I kept telling myself to keep my head up. I knew going out there as a midweek guy, that was exciting for me. So to be able to move up to Friday is even more exciting,” Hall said. “It’s another thing to keep me going and drive for me. It’s unbelievable to think that things could start one way and switch up and go another.”

Hall’s best asset has been his control.

Hall ranks eighth in the country with 120 strikeouts, is second in strikeout-to-walk ratio, and eighth in walks per nine innings. Hall’s 12.00 ratio is second only to the 15.50 mark of Navy’s Nate Mitchell. He’s walked 10 batters in 87 1/3 innings.

“His confidence level is what I feel like separates him from a lot of people,” Berry said.

With Hall leading the way, Southern Miss (41-14) rolled to the Conference USA regular-season championship. Southern Miss will be the No. 1 seed when it hosts the C-USA Tournament this week at Pete Taylor Park, and Hall will be on the mound for Wednesday’s opener against UAB at 4 p.m.

He and the Golden Eagles are hoping to exit Conference USA with their sixth tournament title — they’ll move to the Sun Belt Conference for 2023 — and perhaps earn the right to host an NCAA Tournament regional.

Whatever the next few weeks have in store, Hall seemed happy to take a few minutes Monday to celebrate the unusual journey thus far.

“Just because you start off somewhere doesn’t mean that’s where you’re going to finish. If you keep doing your thing something’s going to happen and things are going to fall into place,” Hall said. “Either way, you’re contributing for your team and that’s kind of what matters in this.”

C Spire Ferriss Trophy winners
2022 – Tanner Hall, P, Southern Miss
2021 – Tanner Allen, OF, Mississippi State
2020 – No winner
2019 – Jake Mangum, OF, Mississippi State
2018 – Nick Sandlin, P, Southern Miss
2017 – Brent Rooker, IF, Mississippi State
2016 – Jake Mangum, OF, Mississippi State
2015 – James McMahon, P, Southern Miss
2014 – Auston Bousfield, OF, Ole Miss
2013 – Hunter Renfroe, OF, Mississippi State
2012 – Chris Stratton, P, Mississippi State
2011 – Tyler Koelling, OF, Southern Miss
2010 – Drew Pomeranz, P, Ole Miss
2009 – Craig Westcott, IF/P, Belhaven
2008 – Scott Bittle, P, Ole Miss
2007 – Ed Easley, C, Mississippi State
2006 – Thomas Berkery, IF, Mississippi State
2005 – Brian Pettway, OF, Ole Miss
2004 – Stephen Head, IF/P, Ole Miss

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 139-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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