DALLAS, Texas — Former WKU Baseball outfielder Jake Sanford has been named the
2018-19 Michael L. Slive Conference USA Male Athlete of the Year, the league
announced on Friday.
Sanford is the fourth Hilltopper student-athlete to be named C-USA Male or Female
Athlete of the Year over the past five seasons, following Volleyball’s Alyssa
Cavanaugh in 2017-18, Football’s Brandon Doughty in 2015-16 and Softball’s Miranda
Kramer in 2014-15. He is the seventh Baseball player to be honored by the league in
16 years of the award’s history.
Sanford came to The Hill from McCook Community College and put forth one of the best
campaigns in WKU Baseball program history. The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native set
numerous records, accumulated multiple All-American accolades and earned C-USA
Player of the Year honors. He started all 56 games while playing every single inning
in the outfield, slashing .398/.483/.805 with 88 hits, 178 total bases, 22 homeruns,
20 doubles, 66 runs batted in and 65 scored.
With a .402 batting average, 22 homeruns and 65 runs batted in heading into the 2019
C-USA Tournament, Sanford became the first regular-season Triple Crown winner
(batting average, homerun and runs batted in leader) in the league’s 24-year
history. He led all Division I hitters with a .805 slugging percentage, and ranked
second with 178 total bases and tied for sixth with 22 homeruns when the
Hilltoppers’ season ended.
Sanford’s 66 runs batted in and 65 scored both finished ninth on WKU’s single-season
charts, while his 22 homeruns rank fifth. From March 2-to-8, he became the first
Hilltopper in 13 years (Jordon Newton in 2006) to hit a homerun in four consecutive
games. On March 25 and April 1, he became only the third player in league history to
earn back-to-back C-USA Hitter of the Week honors. With 106 total bases in 30 league
games, he established a new C-USA record, surpassing Ryan Jones, who had 103 in
In addition to being voted C-USA Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and a
First Team outfielder, Sanford racked up numerous national postseason accolades. The
ABCA, the NCBWA, Perfect Game/Rawlings, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper,
www.D1Baseball.com and 11Point7: The College Baseball
Podcast named him a First Team All-American, while Baseball America listed him as a
Second Team All-American. In addition, he was as a semifinalist for the 2019 Dick
At the 2019 WKU TOPSY Awards, Sanford was awarded the John O. Oldham Male
Student-Athlete of the Year and won Best Male Record-Breaking Performance for
hitting 14 homeruns in the month of March.
The New York Yankees selected Sanford in the third round of the 2019 MLB Draft with
the 105th overall pick on June 4. He became the 57th Hilltopper taken in program
history, including the fourth-highest overall. Two days later, he put ink to paper
at New York’s facility in Tampa, Fla.; with a signing bonus of $597,500, he became
the 111th WKU player to sign with a Major League club.
Sanford joined righty Ben Morrison (2018, Los Angeles Angels), outfielder Jacob
Rhinesmith (2018, Washington Nationals) and outfielder Anderson Miller (2015, Kansas
City Royals) as active Hilltoppers in minor league baseball. He started his
professional career at the Class A Short Season Staten Island Yankees, and has hit
4-for-13 with a .308/.400/.538 slash line in his first four games.