Forget ax, the ‘Paul Bunyan’ of Southern Miss swings big bat


12:37 p. m. ET May 17, 2017

In this may 12, 2017, photograph, Southern Mississippi baseball player Matt Wallner jogs in following the first inning of a NCAA school baseball activity towards the school of Alabama-Birmingham at Pete Taylor Park in Hattiesburg, Miss. Wallner become set to play his university baseball at North Dakota until budget cuts forced the program to be dropped after last season. The lifelong Minnesotan ended up at Southern Mississippi, where he’s changed into a national freshman of the year candidate.
(Susan Broadbridge/The Hattiesburg American, through AP)(Photo: The associated Press)

Matt Wallner was set to play his college baseball at North Dakota until finances cuts forced the program to be dropped after last season. The lifelong Minnesotan ended up at a place he at the start knew nothing about other than that it was a lengthy way from home. A year later, Wallner is downright comfortable at Southern Mississippi.
His 15 home runs are most in the country by a freshman, he’s batting. 335, and he’s an everyday starter in center or left field for the Conference USA regular-season champion Golden Eagles (41-12, 22-5). On Tuesday he permitted an invitation to attend this summer’s USA Baseball Collegiate National staff education camp. “It’s exhausting to say it’s worked out for the best because I really liked North Dakota and the head coach, Jeff Dodson, is an unbelievable guy,” Wallner said. “Head coach Jeff still texts me to this day. He’s been supportive of the men who were there. That’s really been cool. I’m very fortunate to end up having it work out like it has after the fact. It absolutely could have ended up a different direction. ”
Other players who had signed with or played for North Dakota also have excelled. Jake Adams ended up at Iowa, begins at the start base and leads the gigantic Ten with 21 homers and 59 RBIs. Pitchers Tony Grabowske and Trevor Kiminski are weekend starters for Stephen F. Austin. Miles Lewis, who batted a team-best. 360 for North Dakota in 2016, starts in left field for Michigan and is batting. 309 with team-best 14 doubles. The 6-foot-5, 228-pound Wallner — “Big ‘un,” as he’s often known as by Southern Miss coach Scott Berry — might end up being the great of all of them. He’s a candidate for national freshman of the year as a result of his bat, but he also will be a dominate pitcher. Wallner’s fastball has been clocked at 97 mph, and he’s 2-0 with a 1. 84 era and three saves. But he’s been constrained to most effective eight appearances due to a hip issue. Wallner said his early success offensively is attributable to adding muscle and overhauling his swing. In high school, he said, he relied too much on his upper body. He’s widened his stance and generates more energy from his legs now. “Everybody down here thinks he’s Paul Bunyan,” Berry said. “He walks with a huge stick, I can tell you. ”
North Dakota began recruiting Wallner out of Forest Lake (Minnesota) highschool after he attended a camp in Grand Forks his junior…

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