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Five Finalists Named for 2018 C Spire Ferriss Trophy

Players from four different schools bid to be Magnolia State’s top college baseball player; winner will be announced at May 21 Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame awards luncheon

Jackson, Miss., (May 14, 2018) – Players from three nationally-ranked teams dominated finalists announced today for the 2018 C Spire Ferriss Trophy, which annually honors the top college baseball player in Mississippi.

Chosen by Major League Baseball scouts and college baseball coaches in Mississippi, the five finalists include two Southern Miss players and one each from Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Delta State. Finalists are two-time nominee Zach Shannon of Delta State, Mississippi State’s Jake Mangum, Nick Sandlin and Luke Reynolds of Southern Miss and Ryan Olenek of Ole Miss.

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 today at and concludes on Saturday, will account for a weighted 10 percent of the final tally. The winner will be announced on May 21 at a special Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame luncheon.

Former Mississippi State outfielder Brent Rooker won the 2017 award while Mangum, a finalist this year, won the 2016 C Spire Ferriss Trophy, 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.

“This could be one of the closest and toughest votes in the 15-year history of the award,” said Bill Blackwell, executive director of the MSHOF, which co-sponsors the award with C Spire. Ole Miss and Southern Miss have been nationally ranked all year and Delta State, ranked No. 3 overall, begins play this week in the NCAA Division II south region tournament in Lakeland, Florida.

Former Mississippi State pitching standout and Jackson Academy coach Jay Howell, who starred for five Major League teams during an 11-year career, will be the featured speaker at the C Spire Ferriss Trophy luncheon, which begins at 11:30 a.m.

The finalists, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Jake Mangum, Mississippi State outfielder, Jr. Pearl, Miss.: a .342 batting average with 76 hits, 19 doubles, 18 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
  • Ryan Olenek, Ole Miss infielder, pitcher, Jr., Winter Springs, Florida: a .396 batting average with 74 hits, 17 doubles, 3 home runs, 26 RBIs and eight stolen bases.
  • Luke Reynolds, Southern Miss infielder, Jr., Forest, Miss.: a .384 batting average with 13 home runs, 53 RBIs, a .712 slugging percentage and a .538 on-base percentage with seven stolen bases.
  • Nick Sandlin, Southern Miss pitcher, Jr., Evans, Georgia: a 1.15 earned run average and 7-0 record with 114 strike outs and 14 walks and only 40 hits in 78.1 innings.
  • Zach Shannon, Delta State pitcher, infielder, Sr., Cincinnati, Ohio: a .425 batting average with 29 home runs, 86 RBIs, 79 hits, a slugging percentage of .989 and an on-base percentage of .523.

Advance tickets are on sale, including full tables seating 8 persons for $350 each along with reserved seating, half tables and individual tickets. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the MSHOF offices at 601.982.8264, stop by at 1152 Lakeland Drive in Jackson or go online at

2018 marks the 23rd anniversary of the Outstanding Player Awards Program. C Spire has served as title sponsor for 21 of those years since 1998. The Conerly Trophy in college football, the Howell Trophy in men’s college basketball, the Gillom Trophy in in women’s college basketball and the Ferriss Trophy in college baseball comprise the four elements of the C Spire Outstanding Player Award series, which are jointly presented by the company and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.