April 25, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino has been selected to play for the USA Collegiate National Team, UK’s first member of the USA National Team since John Wilson in 1999, it was announced on Wednesday afternoon.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino is the first Wildcat to earn a spot on the prestigious USA Collegiate National Team since Chad Green played for the USA in the 1996 Olympic Games and John Wilson played for the national team in 1999 in Japan. The 5-foot-10, 178-pound centerfielder becomes just the third player in program annals to join Team USA.
In recent years, UK stars Collin Cowgill (2007) and John Shelby (2005) received invitations to the collegiate national team trails, with both falling short of making the final roster.
A 2011 first-team All-America outfielder by Baseball America at Dublin Coffman High School, Cousino will be making his second appearance on a USA National Team, as he was named the MVP of the International Baseball Federation World Championship while starring for the USA U-16 National Team in 2009. During his 2009 summer, Cousino hit .545 (24-for-44) with 16 extra-base knocks.
Cousino has starred for the Wildcats in centerfield and as the leadoff hitter throughout his first collegiate season, currently pacing the team in average (.345), at bats (174), runs (44), hits (60), doubles (17), steals (nine) and outfield assists (eight). He has added a triple, seven homers and 35 RBI, owning a .409 on-base percentage and a .575 slugging mark.
“It is a great honor,” Cousino said. “This is the second time around for me and the first experience was a great one. You get to be surrounded by great players and coaches during the summer, which is a tremendous asset. It is a once in a lifetime experience that I get to do twice now, which is really amazing. It is a great privilege and honor to represent your country and wear USA across your chest.”
Throughout the year, Cousino has solidified himself as one of the top freshmen in college baseball, earning one Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Week accolade after helping lift UK to a series win over Tennessee. He was named SEC Player of the Week on April 10 by College Sports Madness and on Tuesday was tabbed a College Baseball 360 Primetime Performer of the Week.
Just 41 games into his freshman season, Cousino is on pace to shatter every UK freshman hitting record, including ranking fourth in RBI (35; Chris Wade, 51 in 2008), fourth in homers (seven; Chris Gonzalez, 10 in 1993) and sixth in hits (60; Chris Gonzalez, 71 in 1993).
“We are proud of Austin and his opportunity to represent his country on the collegiate national team,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “Austin has brought a work ethic and an energy to our club everyday. He should be a big part of Team USA this summer. Austin’s experience with Team USA will be a great benefit to him, on and off the field, and we are excited that he has earned this opportunity.”
Cousino has performed at a staggering clip as UK’s leadoff hitter in his collegiate debut, reaching base safely as the leadoff hitter in 38-of-78 chances, a .487 mark. He has reached base safely in 38 of his 41 career games, charting a club-best 22 multiple-hit games and 10 multiple RBI games. He has 19 two-strike hits, owning 13 two-out hits and seven two-out RBI. Cousino opened up his career on a 14-game hitting streak, the longest streak for UK since 2008, including multi-hit games in eight of his first 10 career contests. Earlier in the year, Cousino homered in three consecutive games, including two on the road at UT and at No. 18 Georgia, also owning a stretch of four homers in five games.
Cousino will be part of Team USA’s 22-man roster, which will convene on June 23, 2012 at the USA Baseball’s complex in Cary, N.C. The highlight of the team’s schedule this summer is a five-game series at Cuba, scheduled for July 5-9. The series, which will take place at Latin American Stadium in Havana, will mark the first meeting between the U.S. and Cuba Collegiate National Teams since 1996. Following the series against Cuba, the team will travel to Haarlem, the Netherlands for the Honkbal-Haarlem Baseball Week, which will be held July 14-22.