Dec. 21, 2012
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Kentucky sophomore centerfielder Austin Cousino – the 2012 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year – and junior southpaw Corey Littrell have each been selected second-team preseason All-America by Louisville Slugger and the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, it was announced on Friday afternoon.
The duo earned their second preseason All-America honor of the season, as Cousino and Littrell were named third-team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. UK two-way standout A.J. Reed was also named third-team preseason All-America by the NCBWA after a consensus first-team freshman All-America season in 2012. The UK preseason All-Americans in 2012 are UK’s first since Chris Bisson was honored before the 2010 season.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino is coming off a season that saw him become the first player in program history to win SEC Freshman of the Year. The 5-foot-10 left-handed hitting centerfielder led UK with a .319 (83-for-260) average as a freshman with 20 doubles, two triples, nine homers and 41 RBI, stealing 15 bases and sporting a .408 on-base percentage. After the season, Cousino – who was a consensus freshman All-America selection – led the USA Collegiate National Team in hitting during the summer.
Littrell, the former Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year out of Trinity High School, had one of the most dominating seasons for a UK pitcher in program history as a sophomore. The Louisville, Ky., native went 9-2 with a 2.74 ERA in 2012, with 87 strikeouts in 98.2 innings. Littrell finished 2012 with the fourth-most wins in UK history and became just the second UK player since 1987 to win nine or more games. With a 2.74 ERA, Littrell had the eighth-best single-season ERA in UK annals. The 6-foot-3 lefty shined during a six-start stretch to open SEC play, pitching UK to five series finale rubber-match wins and one sweep-clinching win. Littrell, who worked 10 quality starts in 2012, went 9-1 with a 1.48 ERA in his quality outings. Following the year, Littrell became the eighth pitcher to earn All-SEC honors and the third UK hurler since 1997 to earn All-SEC accolades.
Kentucky, ranked a program-best No. 8 in the preseason by Collegiate Baseball, will open up its 103rd official season on Feb. 15 against UNC Asheville at Wofford. UK is coming off a school-record 45-win season in 2012, claiming 20 wins against SEC foes and equaling UK’s best all-time finishes in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.
FIRST-TEAM PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA
RHP Nick Petree, Missouri St.
RHP Mark Appel, Stanford
LHP Carlos Rodon, N.C. State
RHP Trevor Williams, Arizona St.
RHP Adam Plutko, UCLA
LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana St.
Relief Jimmie Sherfy, Oregon
C Mitchell Garver, New Mexico
1B George Roberts, Kent St
2B L.J. Mazzilli, Connecticut
3B D.J. Peterson, New Mexico
SS Trea Turner, N.C. State
OF Raph Rhymes, LSU
OF Michael Conforto, Oregon St.
OF Boomer Collins, Dallas Baptist
DH Nick Backlund, Mercer
UT Michael Lorenzen, Cal. St. Fullerton
SECOND-TEAM PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA
RHP Ryne Stanek, Arkansas
LHP Kent Emanuel, North Carolina
LHP Dillon Overton, Oklahoma
RHP Jonathan Gray, Oklahoma
RHP Chris Rowley, Army
RHP Buck Farmer, Georgia Tech.
RHP Konner Wade, Arizona
LHP Corey Littrell, Kentucky
RHP Tyler Skulina, Kent St.
RHP Bobby Wahl, Mississippi
RHP Aaron Nola, Louisiana St.
Relief Corey Knebel, Texas
Relief Aaron Burke, Coastal Carolina
C Grayson Greiner, South Carolina
C Spencer Navin, Vanderbilt
1B Mason Katz, Louisiana St.
1B Conrad Gregor, Vanderbilt
2B Erich Weiss, Texas
3B Kris Bryant, San Diego
SS Adam Frazier, Mississippi St.
OF Johnny Field, Arizona
OF Austin Cousino, Kentucky
OF Austin Wilson, Stanford
UT Marco Gonzales, Gonzaga
THIRD-TEAM PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA
RHP Preston Morrison, Texas Christian
RHP Andrew Mitchell, Texas Christian
LHP Brandon Leibrandt, Florida St.
RHP Mike Compton, Florida St.
LHP Jordan Montgomery, South Carolina
RHP Colby Holmes, South Carolina
RHP Andrew Pierce, Southern Mississippi
LHP Ben Wetzler, Oregon St.
RHP Jonathon Crawford, Florida
RHP Austin Kubitza, Rice
Relief Preston Hatcher, Western Carolina
Relief Michael Wagner, San Diego
Relief Dan Slania, Notre Dame
Relief Jonathan Holder, Mississippi St.
Relief Colby Suggs, Arkansas
Relief Tyler Webb, South Carolina
Relief Ryan Connolly, Coastal Carolina
C Riley Moore, Arizona
C Austin Wynns, Fresno St.
1B Brian Ragira, Stanford
1B Johnny Coy, Wichita St.
1B Ryan Padilla, New Mexico
2B Steve Wilkerson, Clemson
2B Jordan Hankins, Austin Peay St.
2B Dominic Ficociello, Arkansas
2B Tony Kemp, Vanderbilt
3B Colin Moran, North Carolina
3B Eric Jagielo, Notre Dame
3B Joey Cujas, Virginia Commonwealth
3B Alex Blandino, Stanford
3B Jose Trevino, Oral Roberts
SS Hunter Dozier, Stephen F. Austin
SS Parker Hipp, New Mexico St.
OF Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi St.
OF Phillip Ervin, Samford
OF Brandon Thomas, Georgia Tech.
OF Bill Cullen, Virginia Commonwealth
OF Tyler Molinaro, N.C. Wilmington
UT Desmond Russell, Jackson St.
SEC BASEBALL TOURNAMENT EXPANDS TO 12 TEAMS IN 2013
With the addition of 2012 NCAA Tournament teams in Missouri and Texas A&M, the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament field will increase from 10 to 12 teams and is set for May 21-26 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala.
The SEC Baseball Tournament will consist of seeds 5-12 meeting in a single-elimination format on the opening day of the tournament. The traditional double-elimination format will go from Wednesday-Friday, with the tourney returning to single elimination play on Saturday. There will be a total of 17 games.
The 12 teams are seeded 1-12 with the two divisional champions and top four seeds guaranteed opening-round byes, with the possibility of earning another later in the bracket. The tournament field will include the top teams from the SEC’s Eastern and Western Divisions plus 10 at-large bids seeded 3-12 based on conference winning percentage.
Last year, UK finished third in the SEC Tournament, going 2-1 overall and lasting until a 2-1 elimination-game loss vs. No. 21 Mississippi State in the semifinals. UK posted a win over Ole Miss in the opener of the 2012 Tournament, as A.J. Reed tossed 5.2 shutout innings in the start and batted 4-for-4 with a solo homer at the plate. UK then used Jerad Grundy’s dominating start to beat Mississippi State after an off day, earning a second off day and facing the Bulldogs in the semifinals on Saturday.
Regions Park formerly served as home of the Double-A Birmingham Barons (Chicago White Sox) of the Southern League. The stadium also has served as host of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Final Four and the Conference USA Men’s Soccer Tournament, as well as home to the nationally renowned Hoover Buccaneer high school football program.
Located eight miles south of Birmingham, Regions Park seats 10,800 for baseball, but can accommodate over 16,000 when the patio, banquet and side grassy areas are used. The stadium also houses 12 suites and state-of-the-art dressing and training rooms. Wireless internet access was added in 2004, concourse and signage renovation was done in 2005 and a second-level pressbox expansion, new stadium seating and an exterior facelift in 2007 completed a $6 million renovation project. A new HD video scoreboard was added in 2008, while the SEC introduced the nation to a ‘pitch clock’ in 2010. A new sound systems and concourse amenities such as refurbished restrooms big screen HDTVs at concessions stands were added in 2012.
The 2012 SEC Baseball Tournament drew 129,112 fans to The Hoover Met, a new record-high for the event. Seven times in the last 10 years the tournament has surpassed the six-digit mark in total attendance.
The SEC is currently scheduled to keep its baseball tournament in Hoover at The Hoover Met through 2016 under the current contract.
All games of the tournament have been televised in high definition since 2008, with ESPN set to broadcast the championship game nationally for the fourth straight year in 2013.
BLANTON, DOWNS FORM KENTUCKY ALUMNI OFFICE WITH ANGELS
The Kentucky baseball team will be represented by a pair of former Wildcat stars on the Los Angeles Angels during the 2013 season, as right-handed starter Joe Blanton and reliever Scott Downs will help anchor the Angels pitching staff.
Blanton, who starred at UK from 2000-02, is coming off his sixth 10-win MLB season of his career. He signed with the Angels in early December for $15 million, with an $8 million club option for 2015. Blanton, a 32-year old native of Ashland, Ky., will make $6.5 million in 2013 and $7.5 million in 2013, not including incentives. While pitching with the Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, Blanton went 10-13 with a 4.71 ERA in 31 games and 30 starts. He worked two complete games and one shutout, tossing 191 innings and striking out 166. In his career, Blanton – who won the World Series with the Phillies in 2008 – has a 83-75 record and a 4.37 ERA in 1434.2 innings, striking out 978.
Downs, a UK standout from 1995-97, has been one of the most consistent left-handed relievers in baseball. In 2012 for the Angels, Downs went 1-1 with a 3.15 ERA in 57 games, saving nine games and tossing 45.2 innings with 32 strikeouts. In his career, Downs has a 34-32 record and a 3.55 ERA in 496 MLB games and 50 starts, saving 26 games and striking out 513 in 670 innings.