Sonny Gray decided his best bet was always to try and throw a strike regardless of where he actually aimed.
“I had trouble making throws (to the bases) sometimes last year so this year I decided I was just going to throw the ball as hard as I could every time – like I was throwing a pitch,” Vanderbilt’s No. 1 starting pitcher said. “It kind of got to be a little joke during practices. Guys would be like, ‘Sonny’s throwing fastballs to second base.’”
The approach paid off.
Wednesday, Gray became the first Vanderbilt player ever named to the Rawlings NCAA Division I Gold Glove Team. The Smyrna product did not make an error in 26 chances in the field during his just completed sophomore season. He had 10 putouts and 16 assists in 19 appearances.
“After the season, it was something I didn’t even think about,” Gray said. “Then when I was told I won the award, I started to think back and I can remember a lot of the plays. Defense is something I take pride in.”
A total of nine players (one at each position) were selected for the award, which recognizes performance in the field. Gray was one of only two who was not a junior or senior.
Gray also was a second-team All-SEC selection. In his first season as a full-time starter he went 10-5 with a 3.48 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 108.2 innings.
“The award speaks for itself and is certainly justified,” coach Tim Corbin said. “I haven’t seen a college pitcher more impactful to his team because of his defensive abilities.
Sonny is an outstanding pitcher, but this award separates him as the best defensive pitcher in the country. When he’s on the mound, he is a fifth infielder.”
The complete 2010 Rawlings NCAA Division I Gold Glove team:
Position Player Class School
1B Jordan Ribera Jr. Fresno State
2B Zach Grichor Sr. South Alabama
3B Colin Rooney Sr. Pepperdine
SS Nolan Fontana Fr. Florida
C Yasmani Grandal Jr. Miami (Fla.)
OF Gary Brown Jr. Cal State Fullerton
OF Jarrett Parker Jr. Virginia
OF Ryan Strausborger Sr. Indiana State
P Sonny Gray So. Vanderbilt