Mississippi’s college baseball teams, collectively, are enjoying still another banner season and candidates for the 2014 C Spire Ferriss Trophy are plentiful.
The proof is in the numbers. What follows is a watch list for the Ferriss Trophy, which goes annually to Mississippi’s most outstanding college baseball player (All statistics are through the weekend’s games.)
Several players at Ole Miss padded already gaudy statistics by treating nationally ranked Kentucky’s pitching like batting practice fodder. Junior outfielder Austin Bousfield raised his batting average nearly 30 points to .371, scoring eight runs and knocking in seven. For the season, Bousfield has 21 extra base hits, including six home runs, and has stolen 14 bases in 14 attempts.
Other Rebels on the watch list include:
• Catcher Will Allen, who is hitting .354 with seven homers and 17 doubles, and has been outstanding behind the plate with a .993 fielding percentage.
• Third baseman Austin Anderson, who is hitting .341 with four homers and 13 doubles.
• First baseman Sikes Orvis, who has slammed a team leading 11 home runs and hits .316.
• Starting pitchers Chris Ellis (6-0, 1.81 ERA) and Christian Trent (6-0 and 2.25).
Mississippi State left-handed relief pitcher Jacob Lindgren has strikeout numbers that look like they belong in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Lindgren, who has a 3-0 record with three saves and a 1.37 ERA, has fanned 64 batters in 33 innings, almost two per inning. Opponents are hitting .140 off him. Other Bulldogs who merit strong consideration:
• Left-handed starter /reliever Ross Mitchell, he of the rubber arm, whose 80.1 innings nearly double any other Bulldog, has a 6-4 record with a 2.35 ERA.
• Right-handed reliever Jonathan Holder, despite injury woes, has a 4-1 record with five saves and has struck out 41 batters in 32 innings with a curve ball that seems to drop off the planet.
• Second baseman Brett Pirtle, All-SEC last season, leads the Bulldogs with a batting average of .341.
Southern Miss closer Bradley Roney has been shelved by a sore arm since the first week of April. Still, Roney leads Conference USA with 10 saves and opponents hit a measly .080 off him. He is expected back in his closer role this week. Other Southern Miss candidates:
• Starting pitcher Conor Fisk has a 4-2 record and a 2.63 ERA and opponents hit just .216 off him.
• Catcher/DH Matt Durst is hitting .293 with a team-leading five home runs and 32 runs batted in. His grand slam lifted USM to a win over nationally ranked Rice Sunday.
Division II powerhouse Delta State (35-9 overall and 24-5 in the Gulf South Conference) is led by All American senior pitching ace Michael Manley, who is 16-2 over two seasons. Other DSU candidates:
• Leadoff hitter and center fielder Jordan Chovanec hits .349 and leads the team with 17 steals.
• Left fielder Will Robertson hits a team-leading .369 for the Statesmen, who hit .330 as a team.
Belhaven (38-17) closer Tyler Atkins, has saves in 17 of the Blazers’ 38 victories with 40 strikeouts in 34 innings. Opponents have hit just .154 off him. Atkins doubles as a hard-hitting first baseman with four home runs, 20 doubles, a triple and a .352 batting average. Also for the Blazers, second baseman Paul Pickerell has hit .356 with 33 stolen bases in 38 attempts.
Alcorn State outfielder/DH Scottie Peavey ranks third in hitting in the SWAC with a .355 average.
Millsaps pitcher/infielder Keith Shumaker hits a team-leading .351 and also is the team’s top pitcher with a 6-1 record.
The C Spire Ferriss Trophy, named for the legendary Boo Ferriss, will be awarded on May 19 at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum. Last year’s winner was Hunter Renfroe of Mississippi State.
Rick Cleveland (rcleveland @msfame.com) is the executive director of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.