HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - University of Southern Mississippi freshman outfielder Matt Wallner added another prestigious accolade to his long list of collegiate baseball honors.
Baseball America announced Monday that it had named Wallner its national Freshman of the Year. The Forest Lake, Minn., native also earned the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Freshman Hitter of the Year award.
He became the first Golden Eagle to win Baseball America's top honor for freshmen, and was just the second from a Mississippi school to be so honored by the publication, joining former Mississippi State University great Rafael Palmeiro, who was named in 1983.
Wallner, Conference USA's Freshman of the Year, became the fifth player from a current or former C-USA program, joining Tulane University's James Jurries (1999) and Michael Aubrey (2001) and Rice University's Joe Savery (2005) and Anthony Rendon (2009).
"What a tremendous honor for what Matt accomplished during his freshman season for us," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said in s statement. "There are a lot of great freshmen players across the country and for Matt to be recognized as Freshman of the Year is a true honor."
Wallner, who set Southern Miss freshman records with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs this past season, was named to five All-American teams, including first-team by Division I Baseball and NCBWA, as well as three Freshman All-American teams.
Wallner, who helped the Golden Eagles to a C-USA regular-season championship and the program's first 50-win season, currently is playing for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. He has appeared in two games and has walked twice, scored twice and driven in a run.