It was announced earlier today by Mitch Barnhart that Kentucky Head Baseball Coach Gary Henderson has signed a new five-year contract to remain in the bluegrass state for the foreseeable future The deal is worth a reported $2.145 million. This coming after a tumultuous 2011 campaign that saw the baseball Cats go 25-30 overall and 8-22 in the SEC. Everyone was calling for Henderson’s head, and it looked as though UK was ready to move on to a new baseball coach.
Despite the calls for a new baseball coach, Mitch Barnhart believed Henderson was his man, and his loyalty was rewarded with one of the greatest seasons in UK baseball history. Here are some of the accomplishments coach Henderson and his UK squad were able to accomplish this season:
- Kentucky won a school record 45 games and earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008
- Spent three weeks as the #1 school in college baseball
- Were ranked in major polls the final 13 weeks of the season and will likely enter next season as a preseason top-25 team
- UK pitchers allowed the fewest homers in the SEC and the second fewest in UK history.
- Henderson was named the SEC Coach of the Year
- He has the second-best four-year record of any coach in UK baseball program history.
- Had a school-record 9 players selected in the 2012 MLB Draft
- Freshman outfielder Austin Cousino won the SEC Freshman of the Year award
Its also worth noting that when originally came to Kentuckyin 2004 as the recruiting coordinator for then-head coach John Cohen, UKwasn’t a place where talented baseball players looked to come to. Before the 2006 season, UK averaged 2 players drafted per season. However, since 2006, UK has had 51 players either picked in the MLB Draft or sign a pro contract, a rate of 7 players per season. That’s John Calipari level recruiting in for a program that has no real tradition or history. UK is the only SEC school to have never played in a College World Series, but that drought may be ending soon now that Henderson is locked up for the foreseeable future.