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C Spire Ferriss Trophy finalists announced

C Spire Ferriss Trophy
Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

The finalists for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, presented to Mississippi’s top college baseball player each year, have been announced by the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. 

Chosen by Major League Baseball scouts and college baseball coaches in Mississippi, the five finalists include two players each from Mississippi State and Ole Miss and one from Southern Miss. The finalists are Matt Wallner of Southern Miss, Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum and Ethan Small and Grae Kessinger and Tyler Keenan of Ole Miss.

  • Tyler Keenan, Ole Miss third baseman, Soph., Clayton, N.C.: a .299 batting average with 59 hits, six doubles, a triple, 11 home runs and 55 RBI. Keenan leads the Rebels in HRs and RBI.
  • Grae Kessinger, Ole Miss shortstop, Jr., Oxford, Miss.: a .355 batting average with 76 hits, 17 doubles, four home runs and 39 RBI. Kessinger is currently on a 40-game reached-base streak, the longest active streak in the SEC and one of the longest in the nation. During SEC play, Kessinger is hitting .426, and he leads the SEC in hits and batting average during league play and is top-five in doubles, total bases and on-base percentage.
  • Jake Mangum, Mississippi State outfielder, Sr., Pearl, Miss.: a .401 batting average with 93 hits, 20 doubles, three triples, 37 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He is the all-time SEC hits leader with more walks (18) than strikeouts (15) on the season. Currently, he is No. 2 nationally with 93 hits, and he ranks inside the top 20 in the NCAA in batting average (16th), doubles (13th), runs scored (20th) and toughest to strikeout (5th).
  • Ethan Small, Mississippi State pitcher, Jr., Lexington, Tenn.: a 1.73 earned run average and 7-1 record with 132 strikeouts and 19 walks and only 42 hits in 78 innings. His ERA ranks No. 12 nationally, while his 6.95 strikeout-to-walk ratio is No. 11 among Division I pitchers. The left-hander owns a 0.78 WHIP (Walks and hits per innings pitched), which sits No. 2 in the NCAA.
  • Matt Wallner, Southern Miss outfielder, Jr., Forest Lake, Minn..: a .295 batting average with 54 hits, 10 doubles, 15 home runs (leads team), 44 RBI, a .596 slugging percentage and a .410 on-base percentage.

“Several players have been outstanding this year – so competition will be stiff for the award,” said Bill Blackwell, executive director of the MSHOF. 

The scouts and coaches, whose votes count for 90 percent of the total, will make their choice this week from among the five finalists.  Fan voting, which begins tomorrow at and concludes on Saturday, will account for a weighted 10 percent of the final tally.  The winner will be announced on May 20 at a special Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame luncheon.

Former Mississippi State University player and long-time MLB manager “Buck” Showalter will be the guest speaker at the C Spire Ferriss Trophy luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m. Showalter, who guided the Orioles, Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rangers, played his collegiate ball at MSU where he hit .459 in 1977.  

Southern Miss pitcher Nick Sandlin won the 2018 award while Mississippi State outfielder Brent Rooker won the 2017 award. Mangum, a three-time finalist, won the 2016 C Spire Ferriss Trophy as a freshman, which is named for the late Dave “Boo” Ferriss, a Magnolia State baseball legend, a Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer and long-time Delta State head baseball coach.

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