As if the Big Blue Nation can stand anymore excitement, according to UKAthletics.com, 3 of the Bat Cats have been named Pre-Season All American by the NCBWA.
Kentucky baseball sophomore centerfielder Austin Cousino, junior southpaw Corey Littrell and sophomore two-way standout A.J. Reedhave been named third-team preseason All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, it was announced.
The UK trio are the first preseason All-America selections for Kentucky since Chris Bisson was a third-team preseason All-America honoree by Baseball America in 2010. Cousino, the 2012 Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year, was a consensus freshman All-America selection a year ago, joining Reed, who was a consensus first-team freshman All-America honoree. In 2012, Littrell became just the second UK starting pitcher since 1997 to earn All-SEC honors.
Those three provide some serious pop at the plate and lock down pitching, meaning with that core back, the Wildcats will be greatly improved from their dream season last year.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino became the first player in program history to be voted SEC Freshman of the Year in 2012, leading UK in average (.319), at bats (260), runs (61), hits (83), doubles (20) and steals (15). After his consensus freshman All-America campaign, Cousino led the USA Collegiate National Team in hitting during the summer, leading the club to the bronze medal during Honkbal Week in the Netherlands. Cousino added nine homers, 41 RBI and eight outfield assists in 2012, setting a new UK school record with 142 putouts from his centerfield post. He finished 2012 ranking second in single-season UK history in at bats, sixth in starts (62), ninth in hit by pitches (13), 11th in doubles and 12th in hits. His 28 multiple-hit games marked the second-most in UK single-season history and he finished the year ranked ninth in the SEC in slugging (.515), second in runs, seventh in hits, second in doubles, eighth in homers, third in total bases, sixth in HBP, fifth in steals, first in at bats and second in plate appearances (303).
Littrell, the 2010 Louisville Slugger Kentucky High School Player of the Year out of Trinity High School, had a dominating 2012 season as UK’s Sunday starter. The native of Louisville, Ky., led UK with a 9-2 record and a 2.74 ERA, making 16 weekend starts with 87 strikeouts in 98.2 innings. The southpaw opened up the year with a 8-0 record, finishing with nine wins to rank fourth in UK single-season wins, marking just the fourth nine-or-more game winner in UK history. Littrell became just the second UK player since 1987 to win nine or more games and his ERA marked the eighth-best total in UK history. In his 10 quality starts of 2012, Littrell went 9-1 with a 1.48 ERA. A semifinalist for the College Baseball Hall of Fame Pitcher of the Year Award, he thrust himself into the SEC Pitcher of the Year race with a six-start stretch to open SEC play, winning five rubber matches and clinching a sweep of No. 2 South Carolina. He ranked seventh in the SEC in ERA, sixth in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts, third in wins and first in runners picked off. Following the year, Littrell won the American Baseball Coaches Association Rawlings Gold Glove Award, given to the NCAA’s top defensive pitcher. In his career, Littrell has a 15-8 record in 29 starts.
Reed’s 2012 season earned him consensus first-team freshman All-America honors, batting .300 (60-for-200) with nine doubles, four homers and 43 RBI and going 5-3 with a 2.52 ERA on the mound. A 6-foot-4, 240-pound lefty, Reed worked 53.2 innings, walking only nine and striking out 51. He finished 2012 ranked second on the team and 11th in the SEC with 43 RBI and led UK in hitting against SEC foes, batting .324 with two homers and 15 RBI. Reed was completely dominating on the mound in 2012 and without his final non-conference start of the year, went 5-2 with a 1.76 ERA in 51 innings. Reed starred in the postseason for the Wildcats, including going 4-for-4 as the No. 4 hitter and starting pitcher against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament opener, tossing 5.2 shutout innings and belting the game-winning homer off Rebels ace Bobby Wahl. Days later while UK was locked in a 21-inning marathon with No. 25 Kent State in the NCAA Tournament opener, Reed played the first nine innings at DH, moved to first for three innings and then took the mound to toss a career-high nine innings in relief. Following the season, Reed was a force in the Cape Cod League, ranking third in the circuit in ERA (2.32).