LSU's Nola selected top male amateur athlete in Louisiana

Staff Report

NEW ORLEANS — Aaron Nola, the ace pitcher for the LSU baseball team, has been selected as the 2012-13 male winner of the James J. Corbett Award by the Allstate Sugar Bowl.

The Corbett Awards are presented annually to Louisiana’s top male and female amateur athletes. They are selected by the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee, a group of current and former media members who select the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame, as well as annual award winners in a variety of categories, including the Corbett Awards and the Eddie Robinson Award. The female Corbett winner will be announced today.

Nola will be recognized along with 25 other individuals and two teams at the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame Banquet Saturday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

After a solid freshman campaign, Nola quickly established himself as one of the nation’s top pitchers during his sophomore year.

The right-hander helped the Tigers to an unprecedented 57-11 season mark, the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship, a No. 1 ranking in the nation and a trip to the College World Series.

The Baton Rouge native was the hammer of the Tigers’ staff, posting a 12-1 overall mark with a 1.57 ERA, walking just 18 hitters.

“Aaron Nola is an outstanding young man and an amazing pitcher, and he certainly deserves this very prestigious award,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in a news release. “He is a tremendous representative of our program and of the state of Louisiana, and all of us at LSU are extremely proud of his achievements.”

The alum of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge was a First-Team All-American, the District VII Player of the Year (by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association), the SEC Pitcher of the Year and an easy choice as the Louisiana Pitcher of the Year. He was also one of three finalists for this season’s Pitcher of the Year awarded by College Baseball Hall of Fame Foundation.

Entering the College World Series, he ranked No. 1 in the SEC in strikeouts with 117; No. 3 in the SEC in wins with 12, No. 3 in the league in opponent batting average at .187 and No. 4 in the league in innings pitched with 118.0.

“When he takes the mound, I think he is about as likely to keep LSU in the game — or as likely to shut the opposition down and give LSU a chance to win — as any pitcher we’ve ever had, and that would include Ben McDonald,” former LSU coach Skip Bertman told The Advocate.

After an outstanding regular season, Nola reached elite status during the postseason. He had an excellent outing in the SEC Tournament against rival Arkansas, allowing just one run on six hits with eight strikeouts.

He then was named to the 2013 NCAA Baton Rouge Regional All-Tournament team after defeating Sam Houston State, limiting them to no earned runs on six hits with six strikeouts.

The 6-1, 183-pounder hurled a brilliant two-hit shutout against Oklahoma in the Super Regional — becoming just the fourth pitcher in LSU history to throw three shutouts in one season.

“The biggest thing for me is to keep my team in the game, worry about my job,” Nola told the Associated Press. “The only thing I can control is what I can control — my pitches and the way I throw it and where I throw it. That’s how I’ve been all year — just do my job.”

Despite suffering his first loss of the season against UCLA in the College World Series, Nola still was exceptional, allowing only five hits and two unearned runs in the 2-1 ballgame.

During the regular season, the sophomore became the first LSU pitcher to record four consecutive complete game victories since Mike Sirotka did so in 1993.

Nola was invited by USA Baseball to join Team USA this summer for a 33-game international tour but turned down the invitation after the career-high innings thrown during the collegiate season.

The Corbett Award was created in 1967 and named in honor of the late James J. Corbett to commemorate his many contributions to intercollegiate athletics and specifically to the Sugar Bowl.

At the time of his death, Corbett was the athletic director at Louisiana State University.

The Corbett recipients are selected each year by members of the N.O. Sports Hall of Fame Committee, based on nominations submitted by the state’s sportswriters, sportscasters and sports information directors.

Since its inception in 1967 (through 2012), Corbett Award winners include 16 NFL players, seven Major League Baseball players, four NBA players (including two Hall of Famers), eight Olympians (including seven Gold Medal winners), three WNBA players and one PGA Tour star.

Nadeau is with the Greater New Orleans Sports Selection Committee.

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