MacLeod Named Co-National Freshman of the Year


TUSCON, Ariz. (MSU Athletics) – A pair of Mississippi State baseball freshmen were honored by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper on Tuesday (June 2) as the publication released its Freshman All-America team. Left-handed pitcher Christian MacLeod was tabbed Co-National Freshman Player of the Year, while right-handed pitcher Will Bednar was named to the Freshman All-America squad.

Just the third Diamond Dawg in program history to earn a national freshman of the year honor, MacLeod joins Rafael Palmeiro (1983; Baseball America) and teammate JT Ginn (2019; Collegiate Baseball & Perfect Game) in the State record books. It is also the first time in program history that Mississippi State has earned national “of the year” awards in consecutive seasons, with Ginn and Ethan Small (National Pitcher of the Year) each garnering national awards in 2019.

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With two Freshman All-Americas in 2020, it is the first time since 2007 that multiple Mississippi State baseball student-athletes earned national freshman recognition from the same organization, when Ricky Bowen and Brandon Turner were each honored by Collegiate Baseball. In 2018, Tanner Allen and Rowdey Jordan each earned Freshman All-America honors, but from separate publications.

The duo pushes Mississippi State’s total to 39 student-athletes to have earned Freshman All-America laurels for a total of 52 honors. It also marks the 10th time in program history MSU has had multiple Freshman All-Americans in the same season.

Bednar earned one save on the season, making four total appearances with one start in 2020. In 15 1/3 innings of work, the right-hander struck out 23 batters and walked just six. His 23 strikeouts ranked No. 4 among SEC freshman and sat just outside the top 10 nationally among rookies.

The first three appearances of his career came in relief, as he allowed two runs in 10 innings of work. He tossed four scoreless innings at Long Beach State to earn the save, as he fanned six and scattered three hits to combined with MacLeod for MSU’s lone shutout of the season. In his first career start, Bednar limited Quinnipiac to one run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings. He fanned eight Bobcat hitters and walked two in the no decision.

MacLeod became the first Mississippi State freshman to earn an All-America nod since Jake Mangum in 2016 when Collegiate Baseball honored him last week. The redshirt-freshman also earned a spot on the SEC Community Service team and was selected the SEC Pitcher of the Week on February 17 after an outstanding season debut against Wright State.

The lone Power 5 freshman to register four-or-more victories on the season, he also tied for the most strikeouts among Power 5 freshmen in 2020. His four victories tied for No. 2 nationally and tied for the SEC lead in the category. Overall, MacLeod was also among the top 50 nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (25th; 3.86), WHIP (32nd; 0.71) and ERA (41st; 0.86).

MacLeod had an impressive collegiate debut with 11 strikeouts on February 15 versus Wright State, marking the most strikeouts in a freshman collegiate debut in MSU history. A 12-strikeout effort versus Quinnipiac made him the only freshman in the NCAA with multiple double-digit strikeout games in 2020. His two double-digit strikeout games equal Paul Maholm (2001) and Eric DuBose (1995) for the most by a rookie in MSU history.

In four starts on the mound, MacLeod led the team in strikeouts (35), innings pitched (21.0) and wins (4), while ranking first among qualifying MSU pitchers in ERA (0.86) and opponents’ batting average (.127). The left-hander held opponents to two-or-fewer runs in all four starts and fanned seven-plus batters in three of four starts. He issued one-or-fewer walks in three of four starts and allowed just two extra base hits on the season.

The Diamond Dawgs wrapped up the shortened 2020 season on a five game winning streak to post a 12-4 overall record, including a sweep of No. 2 Texas Tech in the final two games of the campaign.