Three earn All-SEC honors for Ole Miss baseball

Grae Kessinger, Cooper Johnson, Doug Nikhazy Named to All-Conference teams
Published: May. 20, 2019 at 4:50 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WLBT) - Grae Kessinger, Cooper Johnson and Doug Nikhazy combined to bring home four All-Southeastern Conference honors for the 2019 season, the league office announced Monday afternoon.

Kessinger was honored as the top shortstop in the SEC, bringing home First Team All-SEC honors at the position. Johnson was selected to the All-SEC Second Team, as well as being designated as the best defensive catcher in the league, earning a spot on the All-Defensive Team. Finally, Nikhazy was selected to the All-SEC Freshman Team after a tremendous first year on the mound.

After earning five All-SEC designations a year ago, this is the first time the Rebels have had four or more All-SEC honors in consecutive seasons since the 2007-08 campaigns. It’s also the first time Ole Miss has had one player on each of the four All-SEC teams in consecutive seasons.

Kessinger’s selection came as no surprise after his dominant run in conference play. The junior out of Oxford, Mississippi, led the SEC with 51 hits in conference play. His .405 batting average and .472 on-base percentage were good for second during the conference season. He was also among the top 10 in the league in doubles, total bases, slugging percentage, RBI, stolen bases.

His junior campaign was highlighted by a 40-game reached base streak, which spanned more than two months from March 8 until May 14. It was the longest streak by a Rebel since Tanner Mathis reached in 41 straight in 2011.

The outstanding season landed Kessinger on the Brooks Wallace Award Semifinalist list, given annually to the top shortstop in country. He was also a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, awarded to the top college baseball player in Mississippi.

Johnson adds his two All-SEC honors to another pair of laurels earned in the 2019 season. Johnson was on the watch list for the Buster Posey Award and was named SEC Player of the Week in Week 12 after slashing .545/.643/.909 in the LSU series with six runs scored, five RBI, a double and a home run. In Sunday’s series-clinching win, Johnson went 4-for-5, with four runs scored and four RBI, posting career-highs in hits and runs scored.

The junior out of Mundelein, Illinois, threw out 13 baserunners during SEC play and 17 throughout the 2019 season. Both marks came as the second-most in the league. He was charged with just six passed balls in 51 games played. Offensively, Johnson hit .284 in conference play with 19 runs scored, three doubles, four home runs and 16 RBI.

Nikhazy also earned weekly honors from the conference, being named SEC Freshman of the Week twice. He’s one of two freshmen to earn two weekly honors and is the only freshman to earn two during SEC play.

The rookie out of Windermere, Florida, closed the regular season with a 6-3 record and a 3.54 ERA, striking out 67 while walking just 25 in 17 total appearances and 11 starts. In SEC play, Nikhazy was 5-2 with a 3.44 ERA.

He opened the season working primarily out of the bullpen but moved into a weekend starting role around the start of SEC play. In his first SEC start, Nikhazy took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and ultimately turned in 7.2 innings of two-hit ball, combining on one of three shutouts by the Rebel staff this season.

Ole Miss opens SEC Tournament play Tuesday against Missouri. The Rebels and Tigers will square off in the second game of the tournament, a single-elimination bout that will start at approximately 1 p.m. CT on SEC Network.

2019 SEC Baseball Awards Player of the Year: JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt

Pitcher of the Year: Ethan Small, Mississippi State

Freshman of the Year: JT Ginn, Mississippi State

Coach of the Year: Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt

Scholar-Athlete of the Year: Garrett Stallings, Tennessee

First-Team All-SEC

C: Philip Clarke, Vanderbilt

1B: Tanner Allen, Mississippi State

2B: Justin Foscue, Mississippi State

3B: Austin Martin, Vanderbilt

SS: Grae Kessinger, Ole Miss

OF: JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt

OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

OF: Alerick Soularie, Tennessee

DH/UT: Nelson Maldonado, Florida

SP: Ethan Small, Mississippi State

SP: Emerson Hancock, Georgia

RP: Tyler Brown, Vanderbilt

Second-Team All-SEC Team

C: Cooper Johnson, Ole Miss

1B: Trevor Ezell, Arkansas

2B: LJ Talley, Georgia

3B: Aaron Schunk, Georgia

SS: Casey Martin, Arkansas

OF: Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas

OF: Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas

OF: Antoine Duplantis, LSU

DH/UT: Matt Goodheart, Arkansas

SP: TJ Sikkema, Missouri

SP: Zack Thompson, Kentucky

RP: Matt Cronin, Arkansas

Freshman All-SEC Team

JT Ginn, SP, Mississippi State

Kumar Rocker, SP, Vanderbilt

Doug Nikhazy, SP, Ole Miss

Cole Henry, SP, LSU

Cole Wilcox, SP, Georgia

Patrick Wicklander, SP, Arkansas

Connor Noland, SP, Arkansas

Ryan Bliss, 2B, Auburn

Christian Franklin, OF, Arkansas

Joseph Menefee, RP, Texas A&M

Kendrick Calilao, 1B, Florida

Brett Kerry, RP, South Carolina

SEC All-Defensive Team

C: Cooper Johnson, Ole Miss

1B: Trevor Ezell, Arkansas*

1B: Julian Infante, Vanderbilt*

2B: LJ Talley, Georgia

3B: Austin Martin, Vanderbilt

SS: Cam Shepherd, Georgia

OF: Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas

OF: Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

OF: Zach Watson, LSU

P: Garrett Stallings, Tennessee

*Tie (Ties are not broken)

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