At this point it’s pretty safe to say Southern Miss’ Matt Wallner was the best freshman in the country this season.
The standout Golden Eagle picked up his second Freshman of the Year honor Thursday, this time courtesy of D1Baseball.com.
Baseball America previously named Wallner its Freshman of the Year. NCBWA also named him its Freshman Hitter of the Year, as did Conference USA.
D1Baseball, NCBWA, Baseball America, Perfect Game/Rawlings, ABCA/Rawlings all named Wallner an All-American. Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA also placed the Forest Lake, Minnesota, native on their Freshman All-America teams.
“To be honored by three different media outlets as their Freshman of the Year is quite an accomplishment for Matt,” Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. “There were so many good freshmen in the country this season and to see Matt’s body of work honored as the top one is quite a tribute to the hard work that this young man put in all year long.”
In his first year of collegiate baseball, all Wallner did was hit .336 while setting the school’s freshman record for homers (19) and RBIs (63). His home run and RBI totals were first and second in the country.
Although his pitching was hindered by injury, Wallner still posted a 2-0 record with a 1.84 ERA in nine appearances. Over that span, Wallner struck out 15 against seven walks while holding opponents to a .157 average.
After running down the list of accomplishments and honors, it’s worth revisiting that once upon a time Wallner wasn’t ear-marked for stardom in Mississippi. He had actually signed with North Dakota until the school shut down its baseball program.
Newly appointed Louisiana-Monroe coach and former USM assistant Michael Federico scouted the 6-foot-5 two-way threat and ended up beating out Kentucky, Minnesota and even the Minnesota Twins for his services.