WICHITA, Kan. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - Amid an outstanding season behind the plate for Ole Miss baseball, junior Nick Fortes has been named a Johnny Bench Award semifinalist.
Fortes is one of two Southeastern Conference catchers, joined by JJ Schwarz of Florida, to make the list of 16 semifinalists.
Fortes is hitting .299 on the season with an OPS of .949. The Deland, Florida, native has tallied 58 hits and 11 doubles and is second on the team with 11 home runs. Fortes has scored 46 runs and has 46 RBI as well.
The Rebel's No. 3 hole hitter, Fortes is batting .600 with the bases loaded this season and his chewing up left-handed pitchers at a .408 average. He has 14 multi-hit games and 11 multi-RBI games. He's also owner of the team's second-longest reached-base streak this season at 19 straight games.
Coached by three former catchers in Mike Bianco, Carl Lafferty and Mike Clement, Fortes continues the recent lineage of Rebel catchers in contention for the Johnny Bench Award. Stuart Turner won the award in 2013, Will Allen was a Johnny Bench Award finalist in 2014, and Henri Lartigue was a semifinalist in 2016.
Named after the 14-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner, the Johnny Bench Award is presented annually to the nation's top catcher, as voted on by Division I coaches. The current list of 16 will be whittled down to three finalists, announced June 4. The winner will be announced at the 21st Annual Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 28.
Fortes and the Rebels close their regular season this weekend with a three-game set at Alabama, starting Thursday at 6 p.m. CT.
2018 Johnny Bench Award Semifinalists
Joey Bart, Georgia Tech, Jr.
Carter Bins, Fresno State, So.
Trevor Casanova, Cal State Northridge, Jr.
Tyler Cropley, Iowa, Sr.
Tim DalPorto, Kent State, Sr.
Logan Driscoll, George Mason, So.
Michael Emodi, Creighton, Jr.
Nick Fortes, Ole Miss, Jr.
Alex Holderbach, Eastern Kentucky, Jr.
Reynaldo Pastrana, Marshall, Jr.
Cal Raleigh, Florida State, Jr.
Adley Rutschman, Oregon State, So.
Cesar Salazar, Arizona, Jr.
JJ Schwarz, Florida, Sr.
Jake Washer, East Carolina, So.
Harris Yett, UNC Charlotte, Jr.