Oxford’s Pratt wins Gatorade Player of the Year award

Published 11:20 am Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Oxford’s Pratt wins prestigious award

Cooper Pratt of Oxford has been named the 2022-23 Gatorade Mississippi Baseball Player of the Year, after posting stellar offensive numbers and leading his high school team to a state championship.

Pratt, the son of Russell and Dr. Heidi Pratt, hit .469 and posted a 10-0 pitching record for Magnolia Heights School in Senatobia.

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The 6-foot-4, 200-pound senior shortstop and right-handed pitcher led the Chiefs (40-3) to their fifth straight Mid South Association of Independent Schools Class 5A championship. His ERA was a 0.14, and he surrendered just 18 hits and eight walks in 49 innings pitched while striking out 66 batters.

He hit four home runs, drove in 50 RBI and swiped 38 bases. A Rawlings/Perfect Game Preseason First Team AllAmerican, he is also a two-time MAIS Class 5A Player of the Year.

In its 38th year of honoring the nation’s best high school athletes, Gatorade’s Player of the Year award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence, but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character demonstrated on and off the field.

Pratt learned of the award late last week while at a strength and conditioning workout. “My teammates and I have won a lot of trophies and awards in the past couple of years, but Gatorade Player of the Year is really special to me,” Pratt said.

“Growing up in Oxford and playing with some very talented players all over Mississippi, it’s a real honor to get this award. Mississippi has great baseball and great players and I’m just thankful to be part of it,” he said.

“I have to thank God for allowing me to play this game, and to have the support of my family. My dad has always coached me and my brothers and hit with us every day and our mom is the best coach ever,” Pratt said. “Mom always tells us we are playing good, but she will let us know when we need to change something too.”

Cooper is the second of four sons. Older brother Ozzie played two years at BYU before entering the transfer portal last month. He will soon decide where to continue his collegiate career. Younger brother Quincy, a freshman catcher at Magnolia Heights is also an Ole Miss commit. Youngest brother Jett will be a 7th grader this fall and begin Junior High baseball with the Chiefs next season.

Pratt took little time to celebrate the award, as his early summer is filled with workouts and endless hours honing his skills at The Farm, the Lafayette County training facility where he hits daily and weighs the options for his baseball future.

“I just try to work hard and stay sharp every day,” Pratt said. “I’m getting ready for college in the fall and of course the draft is coming up, so it really just depends on what happens there.”

Now a finalist for the prestigious Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year award to be announced in June, Pratt joins an elite alumni association of state award-winners in 12 sports, including Jackson Holliday (2021-22, Stillwater High School, Okla.), Bobby Witt Jr. (2018-19, Colleybille Heritage High School, Texas), Clayton Kershaw (2005-06, Highland Park High School, Texas) and Derek Jeter (1991-92, Kalamazoo High School, Mich.).

Pratt has volunteered locally on behalf of tornado and hurricane relief efforts, youth baseball programs, nursing homes and Second Chances Animal Rescue.

“Cooper Pratt fits the bill in most every way possible,” said Chris McMinn, head coach at Magnolia Heights. “He’s got great hands, good speed, he’s athletic – an all-around phenomenal baseball player. Cooper is a leader on and off the field and his work ethic is a coach’s dream.”

Pratt has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom. He has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball on scholarship at the University of Mississippi this fall, but is projected as an early-round selection in July’s Major League Baseball draft.

The Gatorade Player of the Year program annually recognizes one winner in the District of Columbia and each of the 50 states that sanction high school football, girls volleyball, boys and girls cross country, boys and girls basketball, boys and girls soccer, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track & field, and awards one National Player of the Year in each sport.

The selection process is administered by the Gatorade Player of the Year Selection Committee, which leverages experts including coaches, scouts, media and others as sources to help evaluate and determine the state winners in each sport.

Pratt joins recent Gatorade Mississippi Baseball Players of the Year Dakota Jordan (2021-22, Jackson Academy), Braden Montgomery (2020-21, Madison Central High School), Blaze Jordan (2019-20, DeSoto Central High School), and Colten Keith (2018-19, Biloxi High School), among the state’s list of former award winners.

To date, Gatorade Player of the Year winners’ grants have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations. For nearly 40 years, Gatorade has honored high school athletes at the top of their game as teammates, supporting their communities and achieving academic success.