LUBBOCK, Texas (WLBT) - At the conclusion of a tremendous junior campaign, Ole Miss baseball’s Grae Kessinger has been named the winner of the 2019 Brooks Wallace Award, given annually to the nation’s top shortstop.
The award is sponsored by Mizuno and presented by the College Baseball Foundation. It is named for former Texas Tech shortstop Brooks Wallace, who played for the Red Raiders to from 1977 to 1980. Wallace died of leukemia at the age of 27. The Award winner is selected based on his performance on the field, as well as his leadership qualities, community service and success in the classroom.
"I am proud to have Grae represent our family as this year's Brooks Wallace Award winner," said Larry Wallace, award co-chairman and brother of Brooks. "He portrays all the qualities we look for in honoring Brooks' legacy."
"We were steadfast in our research and feel like we have picked the best shortstop to represent the prestigious Brooks Wallace Award," award-co chairman Tom Quigley said. "As a former teammate of Brooks, I feel he would agree. We are proud to name Grae as our 2019 award winner."
The junior out of Oxford, Mississippi, was a drafted in the second round with the 68th overall pick by the Houston Astros last week. He was named First Team All-SEC, as well as a Third Team All-American by Collegiate Baseball. Kessinger was also a finalist for the C Spire Ferriss Trophy, given to the state of Mississippi's best college baseball player.
The Rebels' team MVP, Kessinger led Ole Miss to a No. 12 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, a runner-up finish in the SEC Tournament and a run to the final game of the Fayetteville Super Regional.
Kessinger finished his junior season with a team-high .330 batting average. He scored 67 runs and drove in 50, while tallying 18 doubles and seven home runs. He was efficient at the plate as well, drawing 41 walks while striking out just 35 times in 270 at-bats. His .430 on-base percentage was second on the team. Additionally, Kessinger was 16-for-19 in stolen bases.
The Rebel shortstop was particularly proficient in SEC play, leading the conference with 51 hits against league competition. 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 and stolen bases.
Kessinger has been outstanding in the field as well. In addition to numerous spectacular plays that have earned him spots on the SportsCenter Top 10 and the NCAA's Plays of the Week, Kessinger made just nine errors with 97 putouts and 156 assists.
Kessinger is the first Rebel to win the Brooks Wallace Award.