Notebook: Shepherd Named PGCBL Pitcher of the Year

Aug. 21, 2012

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky baseball standouts Austin Cousino, Paul McConkey and Chandler Shepherd have each been honored for their summer performances. Cousino was named the 12th-best prospect on the USA Collegiate National Team, McConkey was honored as a top NECBL performer and Shepherd was named the PGCBL Pitcher of the Year.

UK sophomore right-hander Chandler Shepherd enjoyed tremendous success in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League during the summer, earning 2012 PGCBL Pitcher of the Year honors.

A native of Louisa, Ky., Shepherd finished the year with a perfect 7-0 record and 1.31 ERA while just allowing eight earned runs in eight starts. Shepherd finished the year atop the PGCBL leaderboards in opposing batting avg. (.154), runs allowed (nine), and in a tie atop the leaderboard in wins and ERA.

Shepherd was the go-to man for the Amsterdam Mohawks, tossing 5.2 innings in a winning effort on short rest in the deciding game of the championship series, claiming Amsterdam’s fifth championship while recording a franchise-best 39 wins. Despite pitching on an inadequate amount of rest, Shepherd managed to rack up 10 strikeouts and record his second win of the playoffs.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound righty dominated in the summer following a strong freshman campaign. Shepherd appeared in 18 games, including nine starts, during the Wildcats’ historic 2012 season, posting a 3-1 record with a 3.83 ERA. He struck out 33 in 56.1 innings pitched while only allowing 24 earned runs and 16 walks. Shepherd shined in the NCAA Tournament with UK short on pitching after the 21-inning opener, tossing 10.2 innings in a two-day span, allowing just two runs in the effort.

After hitting .358 with 11 doubles and four RBI over the summer, junior infielder Paul McConkey was selected a New England Collegiate League top performer by Perfect Game USA.  

The two-time NECBL all-star led the Holyoke Blue Sox in hitting, batting .358 with 11 doubles, one triple, four homers, 22 RBI and four stolen bases while leading the Blue Sox to 17 wins. McConkey’s team-best batting average marked the sixth best in the NECBL.

A native of Knoxville, Tenn., McConkey came on late in the spring for the Wildcats, providing a sold left-handed bat in the designated hitter spot. Knocking a double and driving in two runs, he finished the season at .323 (10-for-31) in 20 games.

In the NCAA Tournament, McConkey made three starts as the designated hitter and came off the bench in the 21-inning marathon. In the 21-inning game, McConkey came to the plate in the 18th inning with UK trailing by a run and twice launched drives down the rightfield line that just missed the foul pole as the game-tying homer.

After leading the USA Collegiate National Team to a Bronze Medal in the Netherlands with a team-best .351 average, standout centerfielder Austin Cousino was named the 12th-best prospect on the USA National Team by Baseball America.

The sophomore has bounced onto everyone’s radar following a historic freshman season, including being named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, and leading Team USA in hitting over the summer. In 16 games, Cousino batted .351 with four doubles, five RBI and 10 runs scored. As the leadoff guy, he owned a .479 on-base percentage and a .459 slugging mark with the wooden bats in the international competition.

En route to posting one of the best freshman years in program history in 2012 for the Wildcats, Cousino led UK in nearly every offensive category, including at bats (260), runs (61), hits (83), doubles (20), triples (two), steals (15) and outfield assists (eight), during the Wildcats’ school-record 45-win season. Leading off for Kentucky in all but one game, he paced the team with a .319 average while knocking nine homers and 41 RBI.