DALLAS – Conference USA had two players named All-Americans by Baseball America on Monday. Southern Miss junior outfielder Matt Wallner was named to the first team while WKU junior OF Jake Sanford was listed on the second team.
For the second time in three years, Southern Miss OF Matt Wallner (Forest Lake, Minn.) earned All-America honors, Monday, by the publication Baseball America. Wallner collected the magazine’s 2017 National Freshman of the Year award, while also earning second-team All-America honors that season.
Wallner played in all 189 games over this three-year career for the Golden Eagles, making 188 starts (10 in leftfield, 93 in centerfield, 67 in rightfield and 18 at designated hitter including once as both DH/P).
A co-captain this season as voted on by his teammates, he batted .323 during his junior campaign, with 12 doubles, 23 home runs and 60 RBI, earning Conference USA first-team honors. His home run total is tied with four other former Golden Eagles (Clint King 2003, Jeff King 2003, Bill Selby 1992, Fred Cooley 1989) for the most in a single season at the school.
Wallner became the school’s career home run king with 54 on the final day of the regular season with a pair of homers versus UAB (5/18). He added two more round-trippers in the C-USA Tournament and two in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional to finish with 58 homers for his career.
He earned selection to the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional all-tournament team and was the C-USA Tournament Most Valuable Player, which included a 10th-inning, game-winning two-run homer against Rice in the C-USA opener.
In his lone season on The Hill, Sanford’s 2019 campaign was one of the best in WKU program history. Starting all 56 games while playing every single inning in the outfield, the Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native slashed .398/.483/.805 with 88 hits, 178 total bases, 22 home runs, 20 doubles, 66 runs batted in and 65 scored. He also walked 33 times and stole six bases.
With a .402 batting average, 22 homeruns and 65 runs batted in heading into the 2019 Conference USA Tournament, Sanford became the first winner of C-USA’s regular-season Triple Crown (batting average, home runs and runs batted in leader) in the league’s 24-year history. When WKU’s season ended, he led all Division I hitters with a .805 slugging percentage, ranked second with 178 total bases and tied for sixth with 22 home runs.
Sanford became the first Division I hitter with 20 homers and 20 doubles since 2017 (Niko Hulsizer of Morehead State, Austin Listi of Dallas Baptist and Brent Rooker of Mississippi State). Tulane’s Kody Hoese also had 20 homeruns and 20 doubles this season, but Sanford was the first to reach the marks.
He hit at least one homerun in 12 consecutive weekend series to end the season, with two dingers in six of those weekend series.