CHARLOTTE, NC. (Seminoles.com) — Catcher Mat Nelson was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Monday, while pitcher Parker Messick earned ACC Pitcher and Freshman of the Year recognition in a vote of the league’s coaches. This is the first time in ACC history that any school has earned Player, Pitcher and Freshman of the Year in the same season.
Nelson, a third-year sophomore, led the Florida State offense all season, slashing .339/.449/.802 with 22 home runs, the most in the country entering the ACC Tournament. Nelson led FSU with 16 doubles, 60 hits, 63 RBI (most in the ACC) and was second on the team with four stolen bases and eight HBPs.
Behind the plate, Nelson, from Largo, Florida, threw out 16 would-be basestealers and was FSU’s defensive leader all season.
Nelson capped the regular season with a career-high four hits Saturday at No. 23 NC State, including a single, double and two home runs. He enters the ACC Tournament on a 21-game streak of reaching base and led FSU with 21 multi-hit games on the year.
At Georgia Tech, Nelson earned his first ACC Player of the Week award, hitting a home run in each game and adding a pair of doubles in the Seminoles series win in Atlanta. He had a four-game stretch with a home run in mid-April and hit two of FSU’s seven grand slams this year.
Nelson is the eighth Seminole, and first since DJ Stewart in 2014, to win ACC Player of the Year. Nelson’s 22 home runs this season are the most for a Nole since Buster Posey, the only other FSU catcher to win Player of the Year, had 26 in 2008.
Messick, from Plant City, Florida, was FSU’s ace and started all 14 weekend series. The redshirt freshman was 6-2 with a 3.30 earned run average and 114 strikeouts over 79 innings pitched. Before a late season injury pushed him to the back of FSU’s rotation, Messick had 11 consecutive games with at least five innings pitched and no more than two earned runs allowed.
Messick lost his first two starts of the season, but the left-hander was the most dominant and consistent pitcher throughout the year. The Seminoles have won the last six games with Messick on the mound.
Messick struck out at least 10 batters five times this season, including a career-high 12 against North Carolina on April 2. He was named ACC Pitcher of the Week for his 8.0-inning, 11-strikeout game against No. 16 Virginia and hit double-digit strikeouts in three straight outings against No. 6 Miami, Wake Forest and North Carolina. He also struck out 10 Clemson batters in mid-May.
At Georgia Tech, Messick led FSU to a 9-0 win, Florida State’s first shutout of the Yellow Jackets since 2000 and first in Atlanta since 1985.
At the plate, Messick, a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, had nine hits, including a home run in his first career plate appearance at Virginia Tech. At Miami, Messick had a career-high three RBI at the plate and 6.2 innings of one-run ball in the series opener.
Messick is the second player in conference history to be named Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, joining NC State’s Carlos Rodon in 2012. Bryan Henry, in 2007, is the only other Seminole to earn Pitcher of the Year and Messick joins Jonathan Johnson (1993) and Stephen Drew (2002) as FSU players to win Freshman of the Year.
The ACC first awarded an annual pitching award in 2005 and this is the second time that FSU has won both Player and Pitcher of the Year in the same season. Tony Thomas, Jr. (player) and Henry (pitcher) won both in 2007.
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