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After being named top pitcher, Kopps wins Dick Howser Trophy

A day after being named the top pitcher in college baseball, Arkansas’ Kevin Kopps won the Howser Trophy as college baseball’s top player.

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A day after being named the top pitcher in college baseball, Arkansas’ Kevin Kopps won the Dick Howser Trophy as college baseball’s player of the year Friday.

The only other Razorback to earn the honor was Andrew Benintendi in 2015. College baseball writers vote on the award.

Other finalists were Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung, Florida State catcher Matheu Nelson and Vanderbilt starting pitchers Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter.

The trophy is named for Dick Howser, the All-America shortstop, head coach at Florida State and manager of the 1985 World Series Champion Kansas City Royals.

Kopps has also been named Collegiate Baseball Player of the Year, College Baseball Foundation National Pitcher of the Year, first-team All-American by Baseball America and NCBWA, SEC Pitcher of the Year and All-SEC First Team in addition to being an NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award finalist and Golden Spikes Award semifinalist.

Kopps re-invented himself in 2021, becoming one of the most dominant pitchers college baseball has ever seen, and that is not an exaggeration.

Kopps led the nation in earned run average by nearly a half-run at 0.90 while pitching in the SEC against what proved to be the most difficult schedule in the country.

He was also tops in the country in WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) at 0.76 while finishing third in total victories and tenth in saves. He ranked seventh in the nation in total strikeouts and 11th in strikeout-to-walk ratio.

In 33 appearances, Kopps finished the season with a 12-1 record and 11 saves over 89.2 innings pitched for the Razorbacks, who spent most of the year ranked as the unanimous No. 1 team in the country. Not a closer but more of a finisher, Kopps became a multi-day, multi-inning weapon for Arkansas on the weekends.

During SEC regular season play, Kopps allowed three total runs in 18 appearances and 50.2 innings.

At the SEC Tournament in Hoover against Vanderbilt and Tennessee, he pitched six scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one run while striking out eight batters.

Kopps was named the MVP of the NCAA Fayetteville Regional after pitching 13.1 innings, allowing zero runs, six hits and striking out 15 over three games.

In the winner-take-all final against Nebraska, he came on in relief to throw seven shut out innings as the Hogs rallied back from an early 2-0 deficit to survive and advance.

In Super Regional play against NC State, Kopps pitched 10 innings, allowing three total runs and piling up 11 strikeouts.

The season finale against the Wolfpack was Kopps’ first start and only loss of the year and it wasn’t his fault. He worked into the ninth inning and threw 118 pitches.

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