HATTIESBURG – Southern Miss right-handed pitcher Nick Sandlin (Evans, Ga.) collected the school’s first National Pitcher of the Year Award Wednesday morning, earning the selection by Perfect Game/Rawlings.
Sandlin, a second-round pick by the Cleveland Indians earlier this month (67th-pick overall), made the transition from the bullpen to the team’s top starting pitcher this season. The Golden Eagle was one of five starting pitchers to make the first team, while Southern Miss third baseman Luke Reynolds earned second-team honors by the media outlet.
Sandlin was a regular candidate for the Perfect Game and Rawlings Pitcher of the Week honor, something he accomplished once (March 20) during the regular season after he struck out 14 UTSA batters over seven innings, and also did against UT-Martin in his second start of the year. He recorded three complete-game shutouts, two of which came against UAB, with one of those coming in the Conference USA Tournament. He added another dominant postseason outing against Dallas Baptist, tossing seven shutout innings in his final game of the year, to move to 10-0.
In nine of his starts he recorded double-digit strikeouts. In five of his outings he didn’t walk a batter. In total he posted a 1.06 ERA in 15 starts, allowing just 55 hits and 18 walks in 102 1/3 innings with 144 strikeouts and a .155 batting average against.
His 1.06 ERA was the best in the nation among those that qualified and he also finished among the national leaders in wins and strikeouts as the most consistently dominant starting pitcher during the 2018 season.
Sandlin is the only Southern Miss pitcher to accumulate both 20 victories and saves in his career.
As for Reynolds, a 10th-round selection in the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Chicago Cubs, he earned the 2018 Conference USA Player and Newcomer of the Year, while finishing his first season with the Golden Eagles with a .389 batting average to go along with 20 doubles, 15 home runs and 61 runs batted in.
His on-base percentage for the year ended at .551, while his slugging percentage was at .699. After the NCAA Regionals, he ranked second nationally in walks (65) and walks per game (1.05), second in on-base percentage, ninth in runs scored (70) and ninth in slugging percentage.
Both Reynolds and Sandlin helped the Golden Eagles to a 44-18 overall record and both a C-USA regular season and tournament title – the first time the school has accomplished that feat since 2003.