University of Oklahoma baseball shortstop Sheldon Neuse has been awarded the Brooks Wallace Award from the College Baseball Hall of Fame in recognition as the best shortstop in the nation. Neuse becomes the second Big 12 player to earn the honor (Alex Gordon, Nebraska, 2005).
The Brooks Wallace Award, sponsored by Mizuno, is presented annually to honor the nation’s most outstanding shortstop. It is a tribute to Brooks Wallace, a slick-fielding shortstop at Texas Tech from 1977-80 who passed away at the age of 27 after a courageous battle with leukemia. Prior to 2009, the award recognized the national player of the year.
“From the beginning of the season, we’ve had the privilege of watching players progress through midweek games and weekend series. The cream of the crop started to rise to the top, and Sheldon Neuse is no exception,” said Tyler Young, Brooks Wallace Award co-chair. “His performance on the field speaks for itself, but his character off the field distinguished him as the 2016 Brooks Wallace Award winner. It’s been a great year, and it’s an honor to recognize Sheldon for his accomplishments.”
The award will be presented at the College Baseball Hall of Fame Night of Champions in Lubbock on Saturday. Neuse is the second Sooner to be honored with a national award by the CBHOF as Jon Gray was named the Pitcher of the Year in 2013. He is the second Sooner position player to earn a national award and the first since J.T. Wise was honored as the Johnny Bench Award winner in 2009.
A two-way player at shortstop and pitcher, Neuse earned the Second Team utility position. Only the second three-time unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection in league history, Neuse anchored the OU infield and hit third or clean-up in the Sooners lineup, while also serving as the team’s closer. He ranks in the top-100 of six offensive categories in the nation and his slash line ranks top-five in the Big 12. Neuse hit .369 with a .465 on-base percentage and league-leading .646 slugging percentage.
Neuse, who was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year in 2014, drove in a career-best 48 runs and scored 42 to go with 15 doubles, five triples and 10 home runs, while adding 12 stolen bases. On the mound, he made a career-high 14 relief appearances. Neuse went 4-1 with five saves, a 1.40 earned run average and 19 strikeouts in 19.1 innings as opponents hit just .148 off him.
He became the 40th player in program history to score 100 runs with 100 RBI in a Sooner career against Kansas State (5/7). Late in that series against the Wildcats (5/8), Neuse launched the 23rd home run of his career, which went for his 200th. He became the 18th player in OU history to reach the 200-hit mark in a career.
Drafted 58th overall in the second round of this year’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, Neuse has begun his professional career with the Washington Nationals. He debuted on the professional level in June with the Auburn Doubledays of the New York-Penn League.
Neuse, who was the highest drafted position player from Oklahoma since Jackson Williams in 2007, was also a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award, Dick Howser Trophy and John Olerud Award.