By JOEL COLEMAN
Jake Mangum has gone where no freshman in the state of Mississippi has gone before. On Monday, Mississippi State’s first-year outfielder captured the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, which is an award given annually to the state’s best college baseball player. Mangum is the first freshman to ever receive the honor in the award’s 12-year history.
“It’s hard to believe,” Mangum said. “The state of Mississippi, it’s known for baseball. This year is a special year for Mississippi baseball. You’ve got Southern Miss having a great year. Delta State was playing during the (Ferriss) ceremony and they’re going to go deep (in the postseason). Ole Miss is having a great year and there’s so many other schools in the state. It’s a special year and there is a lot of great players that have come through here, so to win meant a lot and it’s a very special experience I’ll never forget.”
Mangum is the fifth MSU player to ever take home the award. He’s the first Bulldog winner since Hunter Renfroe in 2013.
Mangum won the honor over teammates Dakota Hudson and Reid Humphreys, as well as J.B. Woodman of Ole Miss and Will Robertson of Delta State.
“So many people deserve the award,” Mangum said. “So many people deserved to be (at the ceremony). To win, it meant a lot. It was special.”
The Ferriss Trophy is awarded based on the votes of professional scouts and Mississippi’s college baseball coaches. A fan vote, which counts for 10 percent of the final tally, is also factored in.
Those deciding on the honor couldn’t ignore Mangum’s impressive resume. He finished the regular season as the SEC’s leading hitter with a .427 batting average. That mark is third-best in all of the NCAA and is tops among all freshmen in the country.
Considering his youth, it may seem Mangum’s rise to notoriety happened overnight. That’s not the case though said MSU assistant coach Nick Mingione. Back in the fall, shortly after Mangum first got to campus, Mingione remembers Mangum stressing out over things outside his control.
“He went through a couple week period where he was so worried about everything else,” Mingione said of Mangum. “He was worried about whether he would play or not play. He was worried about this guy, this guy and this guy. When he realized he just needed to control what he could control and when he realized that he could just be Jake Mangum and he didn’t have to hit balls over the fence and make them rattle around in the left field lounge and he could just lay his bunts down or get his hustle doubles or throw guys out or make diving plays, he understood that was good enough.
“He showed up every day from then on and it was like he did everything he could to step on the field and he hasn’t given away many days.”
Though all of Mangum’s hard work has paid off with the Ferriss Trophy, the youngster maintains a sense of humility. He says the award is just as much everyone else’s on the MSU roster as it is his.
“I’d have never gotten this award if it wasn’t for my teammates,” Mangum said. “It wouldn’t have happened without the veterans helping me get to where I am. Our outfield is so deep with older guys and young guys. They’ve all really helped me out and prepared me for what to expect. Going into the year, I didn’t know what it was like to play in the SEC. They helped me out a lot.”
SEC awards handed down
The Ferriss Trophy wasn’t the only honor Mangum received on Monday. The SEC handed out its yearly awards and named Mangum its Freshman of the Year. Additionally, Mangum was named to the SEC All-Freshman team and the All-SEC first team.
Mangum was joined on the first team by teammates Hudson, Nathaniel Lowe and Jack Kruger.
Brent Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team.
MSU head coach John Cohen was tabbed the SEC Coach of the Year after guiding the Bulldogs to the school’s 11th regular season conference championship and first since 1989.
In addition, for the third time this season, Hudson won the SEC Pitcher of the Week Award. The junior right-hander claimed the honor after tossing his second-straight complete game shutout in MSU’s win over Arkansas on Thursday.
Bulldogs move up in polls
After capturing the SEC title on Saturday, MSU jumped in the national polls on Monday. The Bulldogs were ranked as the No. 1 team in the country by both Perfect Game and Collegiate Baseball. Baseball America placed MSU at No. 2. The USA Today coaches poll and D1Baseball each gave State a No. 3 ranking.