Booneville, Miss. - One of the aces on Northeast Mississippi Community College's pitching staff will continue to torture opposing hitters once his tenure in the City of Hospitality is complete.
Matthew Sneed has signed his National Letter of Intent (NLI) to become the newest addition to the highly respected baseball program at Delta State University.
"Matthew's probably grown more as a leader than anybody that we've had during the course of a year," said Tigers head coach Richy Harrelson. "I can't tell you how much he's improved. His work ethic and mindset has changed. He's really grown up as a player and a good young man.
"I've had the privilege of knowing those coaches (at Delta State) for a long time and they do a great job. They produce a lot of good baseball players and they're absolutely getting another good one."
The Statesmen just made their 12th all-time appearance at the NCAA Division II College World Series and the sixth under veteran headman Mike Kinnison after winning the Gulf South Conference (GSC) and South Region championships last spring.
"Coach Kinnison and coach (Eric) Patten are great guys that know what they're doing. I just want to win and that's them. They always win," Sneed said. "I just want to thank God, my family, my friends and all my coaches that's gotten me to this point in my life."
Sneed showed flashes of brilliance during his freshman campaign with the Tigers, but truly figured things out over the summer while playing in the Florida Collegiate Summer League (FCSL), which is sponsored by Major League Baseball (MLB).
He finished among the top 20 hurlers in the league with a 4.41 earned run average (ERA) during nine total outings, including a team-best six starts, for the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs.
Sneed conceded only 27 hits and 18 earned runs over 32.2 innings of work during his stint in the Sunshine State. He tallied 27 strikeouts compared to only 15 walks and compiled a record of 2-4.
The Olive Branch native had several dominant performances, including a complete game victory over the Leesburg Lightning. He tossed seven frames of three-hit ball with five strikeouts in the 16-2 win by Winter Park.
He set season-highs with 7.2 innings and eight punch outs in a win over that same Leesburg team earlier in the campaign. Sneed never allowed more than four hits in a single contest and only gave up five extra base hits all summer.
Sneed capped his time with the Diamond Dawgs by taking the mound inside Tropicana Field, which is the home of the MLB's Tampa Bay Rays, in the FCSL championship game versus the Sanford River Rats.
The 6-3, 175-pound right-hander made 10 appearances with four starts during his inaugural year on the Booneville campus. He was especially solid in his relief stints with a 5.29 ERA in 10.2 frames out of the bullpen.
He recorded several season-best marks against Jones County Junior College, including 4.2 innings of action and three strikeouts. Sneed was 0-2 in a starting capacity with no-decisions versus Copiah-Lincoln Community College and Wallace State (Ala.) Community College at Hanceville.
The Olive Branch High School graduate was active defensively with nine assists, which was the second most by any Northeast pitcher one year ago. Sneed only committed two errors during the entire season.
"I'm thankful that I came here. I love it here and couldn't ask for better coaches and teammates," said Sneed. "Coach Harrelson and coach (Jon Andy) Scott made me get bigger, better and stronger. They've pushed me to get to the next level."
He is the latest in a distinguished list of former Tigers to ink with perennial power Delta State. Among those are Will Robertson, who was a finalist for the prestigious Boo Ferriss Trophy as one of the Magnolia State's top college baseball players in 2016.
Sneed is one of only a handful of sophomore hurlers returning to guide a young and talented staff for Northeast, which begins what should be a very promising 2018 campaign during the first full week of February.