LSU junior right-hander Aaron Nola was named the 2014 National Pitcher of the Year Friday by the College Baseball Foundation. He will be presented with the award Saturday night in Lubbock, Texas, during the annual “Night of Champions” event at the Overton Hotel.
Nola is the sixth Fighting Tiger in school history to win a national player or pitcher of the year award, joining pitcher Ben McDonald (1989 Golden Spikes Award), pitcher Lloyd Peever (1992 Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Year); first baseman Eddy Furniss (1998 Dick Howser Trophy); catcher Brad Cresse (2000 Johnny Bench Award); and shortstop Alex Bregman (2013 Brooks Wallace Award).
Nola, a 2014 Golden Spikes Award finalist and a two-time Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year, enjoyed a brilliant three-year career at LSU, compiling a 30-6 mark and a 2.09 ERA in 332 innings with 42 walks and 345 strikeouts. He is No. 3 on the LSU career list for strikeouts, No. 4 for ERA and No. 5 for pitching wins.
Nola, a Baton Rouge native, was named in 2014 a first-team all-American for the second straight season, as he posted an 11-1 mark and a 1.47 ERA in 116.1 innings with 27 walks and 134 strikeouts.
“It’s been such a privilege to coach Aaron Nola, who is truly deserving of this prestigious honor,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He is as fine of a pitcher as I’ve coached in my 32 years in this profession. He was everything you wanted in a pitcher. You gave him the ball, and he would go out and compete as hard as he could every night. The consistency of his performance from week to week can’t be matched. He constantly met the challenges and got better. He gave you everything he had.
“He had the best control of any pitcher I’ve been around. On top of that, he had the intangibles. He had a little something extra that allowed him to raise his game when he needed to the most. I’m very proud of his career at LSU. He represented this team and this state with such class. He is a wonderful young man, and all of us at LSU wish him well. He’ll be playing in the big leagues very soon.”
Nola became the third-highest draft choice in LSU baseball history earlier this month when he was selected as the seventh pick in the first round by the Philadelphia Phillies. Nola began his pro career this week with Phillies’ Class A affiliate in Clearwater, Fla.
Nola was the 22nd-round selection of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011 after his senior season at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge; however, he elected to enroll at LSU instead of signing a pro contract.
“I am so glad I had the opportunity to come to LSU,” Nola said. “It had been a dream of mine, and I got to play under the best coaching staff in the country. I’m so grateful to the fans, coaches and my team. I thank everybody for making it so special.
“It has been such an unbelievable experience, and I couldn’t imagine going to any other school. I’m so glad I came to college to be a part of this program. My teammates have been so good to me, and it has been a blessing to be at LSU.”