FAYETTEVILLE, Arche. – Kevin Kopps is golden.
The Razorback star was named the winner of the 43rd Golden Spikes Award, presented by USA Baseball, Thursday night at ESPN’s SportsCenter. Kopps is the second Arkansas student-athlete to win the award, joining former Razorback outfielder Andrew Benintendi (2015).
The Golden Spikes Award, considered the most prestigious of the National College Baseball Player of the Year honors, recognizes the best amateur baseball player in the United States based on athletic ability, sportsmanship, character and its overall contribution to sport.
As the most dominant pitcher in the game, Kopps ended the 2021 campaign with a 12-1 record and 11 saves. He posted the weakest ERA (0.90) and WHIP (0.76) in the country, retiring 131 in 89 2/3 innings of work. The opposing hitters had a batting average of 0.162 against the right-hander, who set the program’s single-season record for ERA in his historic year.
Kopps, who was selected by the San Diego Padres in the third round (No.99 overall) of the 2021 MLB Draft, won just about every major award in varsity baseball last season. The Sugar Land, Texas native won the Dick Howser Trophy and was named SEC Pitcher of the Year as well as National Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball and D1Baseball.
He was voted District 7 Co-Player of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and was the first reliever to win the College Baseball Foundation’s National Pitcher of the Year award. Unanimous All-America First Team winner Kopps was also named Perfect Game / Rawlings pitcher of the year.
Kopps is the 20e student-athlete in varsity baseball history to win the Golden Spikes Award alongside the Dick Howser Trophy, which is considered the Heisman Trophy in varsity baseball. Benintendi also won both in 2015.
Arkansas is one of five schools, with Arizona State (3), Cal State Fullerton (3), Florida State (4) and San Diego State (2), to have multiple Golden Spikes Award winners. Arkansas is just one of two schools, along with the State of Florida (2), to have multiple student-athletes who won the Dick Howser Trophy and the Golden Spikes Award in the same year.
Kopps, meanwhile, is the ninth SEC player to be named a Golden Spikes Award winner, following in the footsteps of Dave Magadan (Alabama, 1983), Will Clark (Mississippi State, 1985), Ben McDonald (LSU, 1989). , Kip Bouknight (South Carolina, 2000), Mike Zunino (Florida State, 2012), AJ Reed (Kentucky, 2014) and Benintendi.
2021 marked only the second year in Golden Spikes Award history that the finalists (Kopps and Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter) were from the same conference. The four finalists for the award in 2015 also adapted to the SEC (Benintendi, Alex Bregman of LSU and Carson Fulmer and Dansby Swanson of Vanderbilt). Additionally, this year was only the second time that all of the award finalists were pitchers (2011).
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