BILOXI, Miss. — WKU Baseball junior Jake Sanford was named 2019 Conference USA
Player of the Year, the league announced Tuesday afternoon. Votes were compiled from
each head coach and sports information director, as well as one designated media
voter from each market.
The Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, native becomes the eighth Conference Player of the Year
in program history, and first in 15 seasons. The Hilltoppers have had four
Conference Pitchers of the Year, all coming in the Sun Belt.
All-Time WKU Baseball Players of the Year
1978 Ohio Valley Conference: Jim Atkinson, OF
1980 Ohio Valley Conference: Mike Murray, INF
1981 Ohio Valley Conference: Mike Williams, INF
1991 Sun Belt Conference: Chris Turner, OF
1993 Sun Belt Conference: Bill Weyers, 1B
1999 Sun Belt Conference: T.J. Freeman, 1B
2004 Sun Belt Conference: Matt Gunning, OF
2019 Conference USA: Jake Sanford, OF
The transfer from McCook Community College (Neb.) also took home Newcomer of the
Year honors and earned his place as 1-of-3 outfielders on the All-Conference USA
Sanford is the second Hilltopper to earn Conference Newcomer of the Year, joining
outfielder Chad Cregar in the Sun Belt 2008. Meanwhile, he is only the second
student-athlete in Conference USA history to earn both Player and Newcomer of the
Year in the same campaign, joining Southern Miss’ Luke Reynolds last season.
He is the fifth WKU player to get a spot on the Conference USA First Team since the
Hilltoppers joined the league prior to the 2015 season, joining outfielder Anderson
Miller in 2015, designated hitter Kaleb Duckworth and third baseman Danny Hudzina in
2016, and outfielder Jacob Rhinesmith in 2018.
Sanford is slashing .402/.488/.828 for the season with 22 homeruns, 19 doubles, 65
runs batted in and 63 scored. He became the first hitter in the league’s 24-year
history to lead all three major categories for the Triple Crown.
On May 16, he was named a Dick Howser Trophy Semifinalist. Earlier in the campaign,
he was listed on the Golden Spikes Midseason Watch List and earned a spot on the
Perfect Game/Rawlings Midseason All-American First Team.
Sanford has hit at least one homerun in 12 consecutive weekend series, with a pair
of dingers in six of them. In five games against Power Five opponents, Sanford is
7-for-17 with three extra-base hits and a .412/.444/.765 slash line. In 18 plate
appearances against www.D1Baseball.com’s top 100
pitchers, Sanford is 7-for-16 with four extra-base hits and a .438/.500/.813 slash
Outfielder Jackson Swiney earned his spot on the Conference USA All-Freshman Team,
joining outfielder Luke Brown who was named to the all-rookie squad last season. The
St. Louis, Mo., native has been WKU’s center fielder since Opening Day, starting
49-of-53 games while playing errorless baseball in 101 total chances.
Swiney is slashing .264/.346/.438 for the season with six homeruns, 11 doubles, 34
runs batted in and 29 scored. His six long balls are tied for second on the
Hilltoppers, while his .438 slugging percentage ranks fourth on the team.
The freshman is only 1-of-29 Conference USA hitters (of any class) with at least six
dingers and 10 doubles. He had career games at Belmont on April 16 and at Austin
Peay on May 14, with multi-homerun efforts in the game; he had a career-high six
runs batted in against the Bruins, while tallying a career-high 10 total bases and
four runs scored against the Governors.
WKU takes on the ODU Monarchs at 7:30 p.m. on today in the C-USA Tournament.