The 2021 Ole Miss baseball team had five players named to the ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region teams, the American Baseball Coaches Association announced Wednesday.
The first-team honors were given to Tim Elko, Jacob Gonzalez, Kevin Graham and Doug Nikhazy. Rebels closer Taylor Broadway received second-team honors.
This season, Ole Miss overcame adversity with injuries in the lineup. In April, the Rebels team captain Tim Elko went down with a torn ACL. Prior to the injury, Elko was tabbed as the NCBWA National Hitter of the Month for March. Elko returned to the lineup as he put off surgery and helped guide the team to the NCAA Super Regional.
Once Elko got back in the lineup, he provided seven home runs with one ACL. The home runs included two grand slams and two multi-home-run games as the designated hitter. Elko was hitting .350 and led the SEC with 36 RBI prior to his injury. The 2021 SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year closed his senior season with a .325 batting average, a team-high 16 home runs and 55 RBI. He is the only Rebel ever to earn ABCA All-South Region honors at first base.
Gonzalez joins Grae Kessinger (2019) and Zack Cozart (2006, 2007) as the third Rebel shortstop to earn an All-South Region nod. He is the first freshman in program history to be named to an All-Region team.
Gonzalez started every game at shortstop and led Ole Miss in batting average (.355), runs scored (73) and hits (93). The freshman out of Glendora, California, set single-season freshman records in games played, runs scored, RBI (55), total bases (147), and walks (38). Gonzalez leads the SEC in hits and runs scored for the season, ranking fourth in the nation in those categories. He leads all true freshmen nationally in both hits and runs scored.
Graham earned some vindication with his First Team All-Region honor after being left off of the All-SEC teams in the outfield. The junior out of O’Fallon, Missouri, earned a first team spot alongside All-SEC selections Tanner Allen (Mississippi State) and Dylan Crews (LSU) and beat out All-SEC selections Christian Franklin (Arkansas) and Rowdey Jordan (Mississippi State), who were left off the All-Region teams entirely.
Starting all 67 games for Ole Miss — 65 in left field and two at first base — Graham evolved into a strong defender as a junior, as well as one of college baseball’s most dangerous all-around hitters. Graham posted the longest reached-base streak in college baseball this year, earning his way on in the final 60 games of the season and in 65 of 67 games during the 2021 campaign. Graham finished second on the team in batting average, runs scored, hits, doubles, home runs and total bases and led the team with 56 RBI.
Nikhazy added to his litany of honors with his All-Region selection after earning First Team All-American honors earlier this month. He became just the fourth two-time All-American in program history and is the first Rebel pitcher to be named All-South Region since Drew Pomeranz in 2010.
The junior out of Windermere, Florida, earned his program record 12th win of the season in Saturday’s Super Regional win at No. 5 Arizona. He struck out 10 in the victory, his eighth 10-strikeout performance of the season, to give him 142 on the year. The final outing pushed Nikhazy past Will Kline (134 in 2007) and Drew Pomeranz (139 in 2010) to second on the Rebels’ single-season strikeout chart, behind only Lance Lynn’s 146 strikeout effort in 2007.
Broadway rounded out the group of five All-South Regional Rebels with a second-team honor, becoming the first Rebel reliever since Scott Bittle in 2008 on the All-Region teams. The senior out of Cypress, Texas, set a program record with 16 saves in 2021, three more than any other single-season effort in program history. His 16 saves this season alone tied him for eighth on the Ole Miss career saves chart.
He finished with a 4-3 record and a 3.44 ERA in addition to his 16 saves and posted a 2.51 ERA over his 29 relief appearances. The Rebels’ unquestioned go-to reliever struck out 66 batters and walked just nine this season. His 30 total pitching appearances are tied for the second-most in a single season in program history.
The Rebels four First Team honorees — Elko, Gonzalez, Graham and Nikhazy — are nominated for ABCA/Rawlings All-America honors. The ABCA/Rawlings NCAA Division I All-American teams will be announced on Saturday, June 19.