Nola gets one more award

Aaron Nola has begun his pro baseball career, but the two-time All-American will have one more duty to perform as an LSU Tiger.

Nola was named the National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation on Friday, and will pick up his award tonight in Lubbock, Texas, during the organization’s Night of Champions.

“He is as fine of a pitcher as I’ve coached in my 32 years in this profession,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said in a school news release. “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.”

Nola, the No. 7 overall pick in the recent Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, made his pro debut earlier this week with the organization’s Class A team in Clearwater, Fla.

The team granted him time off to be in Lubbock tonight.

“It has been such an unbelievable experience, and I couldn’t imagine going to any other school,” Nola said in a statement released by LSU. “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.”

Nola is the third LSU pitcher to win the honor, joining Ben McDonald (1989) and Lloyd Peever (1992), both of whom were also the national player of the year.

Three other LSU players have won national awards — Eddy Furniss (1998 Dick Howser trophy), Brad Cresse (Johnny Bench award for best catcher in 2000) and Alex Bregman (Brooks Wallace Award for best shortstop).

Nola, who was the Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year the last two seasons, finished his three-year LSU career with a 30-6 record, and a 2.09 ERA in 332 innings with 345 strikeouts. He is No. 3 on the LSU career strikeouts list, No. 4 for ERA and No. 5 for pitching wins.

He was 11-1 with a 1.47 ERA in 116 1/3 innings with 27 walks and 134 strikeouts this season.

“He had the best control of any pitcher I’ve been around,” Mainieri said. “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.”