So many C Spire Ferriss Trophy candidates . . .

Notes, quotes and an opinion or two, while preparing for another busy week at your Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame. . . .

One change in the C Spire Ferriss Trophy format this season. We’ll bring five finalists to the May 20 awards luncheon rather than the three we have in the past. Why? It’s simple: Mississippi college baseball produces too many deserving players to limit the finalists to three. This season is no exception.

The Ferriss Trophy voting is done by Major League baseball scouts who include Mississippi in their territory and the state’s four-year college coaches themselves. It is the only one of the C Spire awards series in which voting is not done by a media panel. Scouts and coaches will have plenty to choose from, including:

• State’s slugging outfielder Hunter Renfroe whose wicked numbers include a .429 batting average, a .865 slugging percentage, 13 home runs, 12 doubles, two triples, 42 runs batted in and a .494 on base percentage. He has stolen eight bases.

• Ole Miss pitcher Bobby Wahl now has a 7-0 record with a 1.40 earned run average. Opponents are hitting .196 against him. And listen: Wahl is 4-0 in five starts against nationally-ranked teams with a 0.53 ERA.

• Southern Miss ace Andrew Pierce’s numbers include these off-the-charts numbers: 66 strikeouts, compared to just 11 walks, a remarkable 6-1 ratio. Pierce has allowed only 48 hits in 69 innings and has a 7-1 record. Opponents are hitting .198 against him.

• Delta State ace Josh Branstetter stats include a 1.43 earned run average and opponents are hitting just .182 against him. He has a 6-1 record and have struck out 50 while walking only 10 for the No. 1 ranked team in Division II national polls.

• Belhaven centerfielder Reagan Rutledge is tied for the NAIA national lead in stolen bases, having swiped 40 of 41.

• Millsaps catcher Wes Perkins leads his team in hitting with a .430 average and has batted in 43 runs in just 34 games for the 26-8 Majors.

This is by no means meant to be a complete list of candidates, just a sampling of how good Mississippi college baseball has been this season. Feel free to list your favorite candidate in the comments section at the end of this piece….

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I can’t remember when I’ve seen a better baseball story than that of Atlanta Braves rookie catcher Evan Gattis, who has come out of nowhere (less than half a season above Class A ball) to become a home run, slugging cleanup hitter for the A-Braves. Did you see him turn around that 96 mph Steven Strasburg fastball Friday night. Back when the Braves played their last exhibition game here at Trustmark Park, Gattis said he was pinching himself just to be on the Opening Day roster. Wonder what he’s doing now?

And do the Braves do when five-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann comes off the DL? Nice problem to have, but, seriously, what do they do. I mean, you can’t sit Gattis can you?

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