OKLAHOMA CITY – University of Oklahoma freshman infielder Sheldon Neuse (Fort Worth, Texas) has been named the Big 12 Baseball Freshman of the Year as voted on by the league’s coaches. Neuse was also named a unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 First Team along with junior utility man Mac James (New Braunfels, Texas). The awards were presented at a pre-tournament media luncheon on Tuesday morning.
Twice named the Big 12 Rookie of the Week, Neuse is the only Oklahoma player to start all 55 games of the regular season. Primarily a third baseman, he has made starts at shortstop as was as eight relief appearances. Neuse is hitting .290 with 40 runs batted in and 39 scored. He leads the team in home runs with seven to go with 17 doubles and seven triples for a .522 slugging percentage.
On the mound, Neuse is 1-0 with one save and a 2.70 earned run average. Over 10 innings, he has struck out 10 and held opponents to a .256 batting average. Neuse is the first Sooner since Garrett Buechele in 2009 to win Freshman of the Year.
James has started games at catcher, first base, third base, left field and designated hitter after getting just nine at-bats a year ago. He is Oklahoma’s top hitter at .348 with 39 RBI and 31 runs. James is slugging .495 and leads the team with a .419 on-base percentage. He has doubled 15 times and homered five, while striking out only 10 times and currently ranks as the ninth toughest batter to strikeout in the nation. James was previously named the Big 12 and National Player of the Week on March 10.
Sophomore center fielder Craig Aikin (Coppell, Texas) earned his second straight All-Big 12 Second Team selection. A .305 hitter overall this season, he hit .365 in league games as the OU lead-off hitter. Aikin leads the team in runs at 43 and walks at 32. He has added 20 RBI, seven doubles and four triples.
Sophomore left fielder Hunter Haley (Nacogdoches, Texas) and freshman first baseman/designated hitter Austin O’Brien (Owasso, Okla.) each landed a spot as All-Big 12 Honorable Mention. Haley is hitting .293 with 41 runs, 30 RBI and 20 extra-base hits, including six home runs. O’Brien, who has made 17 of his 22 starts in Big 12 games, is a .290 hitter with 20 RBI, six doubles and two home runs.
Neuse and O’Brien were also named to the All-Freshman Team.
The Sooners head into the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 8 seed and open play against Oklahoma State at 4:00 pm Wednesday, May 21.