Oklahoma shortstop Sheldon Neuse, a recent second-round pick of the Washington Nationals, has been named a finalist for the Brooks Wallace Award, which is awarded to the nation’s best shortstop by the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
The award 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.
Joining Neuse as finalists are Devin Hairston of Louisville and Charles Leblanc of Pittsburgh. The award will be presented to the winner at the College Baseball Hall of Fame Night of Champions in Lubbock, Texas on July 2. In 2013, Sooner pitcher Jon Gray was honored by the CBHOF as the National Pitcher of the Year.
“Selecting just three players as finalists from a great group of qualified talent proved to be very difficult," said Wallace Award co-chair Larry Wallace. "All three of these young men represent the spirit of the Wallace Award and have distinguished themselves as the top shortstops in the country.”
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.
Neuse, the 58th overall selection of the MLB Draft and 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.
The Night of Champions event also features the announcement of the winners of the National Pitcher of the Year Award, the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award and the Skip Bertman National Coach of the Year Award, as well as the 2016 National College Baseball Hall of Fame inductions. The winners of the Johnny Bench Award and the Dick Howser Trophy will be recognized as well.