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 named national pitcher of the year
Arkansas Kevin Kopps (45) throws against North Carolina State during an NCAA college baseball super regional game Sunday, June 13, 2021, in Fayetteville. (AP Photo/Michael Woods)
FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ baseball season is over, but the award season is ongoing for the Razorbacks' star player in 2021.
Kevin Kopps was named national pitcher of the year Thursday by the College Baseball Foundation. It is the first of three national awards that could be won by Kopps over two days.
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association will announce the winners of the Dick Howser Trophy, Stopper of the Year Award and Mike Martin Award on Friday.
The Howser Trophy is one of the sport’s two most prominent national player of the year awards, along with the Golden Spikes Award. Stopper of the Year is presented to college baseball’s best relief pitcher, and the Martin Award is for national coach of the year.
Kopps is one of five finalists for the Howser Trophy and one of 10 finalists for Stopper of the Year. Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn is a candidate for the Martin Award after leading the Razorbacks to a 50-13 record.
“He’s very humble and did everything he could for this team,” Van Horn said of Kopps following the Razorbacks’ season-ending 3-2 loss to North Carolina State on Sunday, “and I think you’re going to see some pretty good rewards coming his way in the next couple of weeks.”
Kopps, who went 12-1 with 11 saves in 33 appearances, had college baseball’s lowest ERA (0.90) and lowest WHIP (0.76) this season.
Opposing hitters had a .162 average against Kopps. He struck out 131 and walked 18 in 89 2/3 innings. During one stretch, Kopps recorded 28 consecutive scoreless innings, one shy of the program record.
Kopps was a reliever in 32 of his 33 appearances. His only start came during the season-ending loss to NC State, when he allowed a solo home run to lead off the ninth inning. He allowed three runs in 23 1/3 innings during the NCAA Tournament, all of which came in his only start.
Kopps is the first reliever to win the College Baseball Foundation’s pitcher of the year award, which was established in 2009. Past winners of the award include Stephen Strasburg of San Diego State, Trevor Bauer of UCLA and Aaron Nola of LSU.
“Kevin is the embodiment of the National Pitcher of the Year,” said Chris Snead, award co-chairman. “He was dominant on the mound all season and the leader on one of college baseball’s best teams.”
Kopps has also been named national player of the year by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and was voted SEC pitcher of the year by league coaches. The NCBWA and Baseball America announced Kopps as first-team All-America this week, and he is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes that will be presented by USA Baseball in July.
The College Baseball Foundation also awarded Nebraska pitcher/shortstop Spencer Schwellenbach with the John Olerud Award as the nation's best two-way player, and awarded Texas Tech's Cal Conley with the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation's best shortstop.
CORRECTION: The NCBWA announced late Thursday it will present the Stopper of the Year Award on Friday, one day earlier than originally planned.
College Baseball Foundation National Pitcher of the Year
2009: Stephen Strasburg, San Diego State
2010: Alex Wimmers, Ohio State
2011: Trevor Bauer, UCLA
2012: Mark Appel, Stanford
2013: Jon Gray, Oklahoma
2014: Aaron Nola, LSU
2015: Carson Fulmer, Vanderbilt
2016: Eric Lauer, Kent State
2017: Steven Gingery, Texas Tech
2018: Luke Heimlich, Oregon State
2019: Ethan Small, Mississippi State
2021: Kevin Kopps, Arkansas
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