Kessinger Embraces Expectations
Feb. 3, 2017

By Dylan Edwards, OleMissSports.com

Grae Kessinger was never going to come to Ole Miss under the radar, not with that last name. A third-generation player from a player whose last name is so closely entwined with Ole Miss Baseball, Kessinger was always going to have the weight of hefty expectations.

His last name is by no means the only thing that draws attention, though. His ability on the baseball diamond, like his relatives before him, is unquestioned. It’s why D1Baseball.com named Kessinger its preseason SEC Freshman of the Year in the SEC. So, yes, heading into this season, people expect plenty from the freshman.

“Once you walk between those two lines, everything else is gone,” Kessinger said. “Once I walk out there, it’s just play the game you love with the guys you love, and everything else is irrelevant at that time.”

Dealing with expectations is nothing new for Kessinger.

“When you have that name and you grow up in Mississippi, you always have that expectation of how you’re supposed to play,” Ole Miss head coach Mike Bianco said. “He’s handled it great his whole career.”

Lineage does not make a player one of the top 100 prospects in the nation. Kessinger plays at a high level on the diamond because he puts in the work to be good at the very difficult game of baseball.

“He’s a very humble kid,” teammate Tate Blackman said. “He’s always trying to learn. I worked with him over the summer. He was texting me every day. He’s very open to critiques, and I think that’s what makes him such a great player.”

Kessinger spent the fall getting acclimated to major college baseball, and it’s fair to say he did so with aplomb.

“For most kids when they move from high school to here, you can tell that they’re trying to catch up to the game,” Bianco said. “He almost seems like he slows the game down. He’s got that great internal clock and plays with a lot of confidence.”

Kessinger is the favorite to take the field on opening day at shortstop, the same position that his uncle and grandfather occupied for Ole Miss.

“If that is me out there at shortstop (on opening day), it would be a dream come true,” Kessinger said. “I wanted to come in here and enjoy myself. I believed that I was good enough to be here and wanted to show everyone that I was good enough to be here.”

 

 

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