Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
Kopps a semifinalist for Golden Spikes
Arkansas reliever Kevin Kopps throws a pitch during a game against Nebraska in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional at Baum-Walker Stadium on June 5, 2021.
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas reliever Kevin Kopps didn’t make the preseason or midseason watch lists for the Golden Spikes Award.
But on Tuesday, Kopps was announced as one of 25 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes, which is presented by USA Baseball to the best amateur player in the country. A panel of more than 200 voters, plus a fan vote, will determine the winner.
Kopps dazzled with 13 1/3 scoreless innings over three games during the Razorbacks’ win in the NCAA Fayetteville Regional that concluded Monday with Arkansas’ 6-2 victory over Nebraska. Kopps pitched the final seven innings to lower his ERA to 0.68 in 79 2/3 innings this season.
Opponents are batting .156 against Kopps and he has 120 strikeouts to 15 walks. His ERA and WHIP (0.73) are tops nationally for qualifying pitchers. He ranks second nationally with 12 wins and 10th with 11 saves.
Kopps, who was the SEC pitcher of the year, is one of six Golden Spikes semifinalists from the SEC. Others are outfielder Tanner Allen and reliever Landon Sims of Mississippi State, Vanderbilt starting pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, and Ole Miss starting pitcher Doug Nikhazy.
Nebraska shortstop/reliever Spencer Schwellenbach, who shut down the Razorbacks for 4 2/3 scoreless innings Sunday, also made the list, as did a pair of Big 12 position players Arkansas saw during the regular season — Texas Tech infielder Jace Jung and Oklahoma infielder Tyler Hardman.
Freshman infielder Ethan Long, who was committed to Arkansas before signing with Arizona State, is also a semifinalist.
Kopps was previously announced as one of 42 semifinalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, which is one of two prominent national player of the year awards, along with the Golden Spikes. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named Kopps its national player of the year last week.
Kopps would be the first relief pitcher to win the Golden Spikes since Wichita State’s Darren Dreifort in 1993. Arkansas has had one previous winner of the award, outfielder Andrew Benintendi in 2015.
Golden Spikes Award semifinalists
Andrew Abbott, LHP, Virginia
Tanner Allen, OF, Mississippi State
Jacob Berry, INF, Arizona
Colton Crowser, Sam Houston State
Henry Davis, C, Louisville
Sal Frelick, UTL, Boston College
Tyler Hardman, INF, Oklahoma
Jace Jung, INF, Texas Tech
Niko Kavada, INF, Notre Dame
Austin Knight, INF, Charlotte
Kevin Kopps, RHP, Arkansas
Jack Leiter, RHP, Vanderbilt
Ethan Long, INF, Arizona State
Ty Madden, RHP, Texas
Matt Mikulski, LHP, Fordham
Matheu Nelson, C, Florida State
Doug Nikhazy, LHP, Ole Miss
Connor Norby, INF, East Carolina
Kumar Rocker, RHP, Vanderbilt
Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP/INF, Nebraska
Landon Sims, RHP, Mississippi State
Paul Skenes, C/RHP, Air Force
Trey Sweeney, 3B, Eastern Illinois
Gavin Williams, RHP, East Carolina
Aaron Zavala, OF, Oregon
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