More All-America honors for UK freshman – No, not Anthony Davis…
I play for the UK Wildcats, in Lexington, Kentucky. I wear blue and white and I had one hell of a rookie season. I helped my team win a ton of games and make national headlines as I made play after play, putting up big numbers in the process.
And my name is not Anthony Davis.
Nope. It could be Austin Cousino. Or A.J. Reed. Both can make the same claim, especially after the latest round of freshman All-America accolades that just rolled in.
Cousino and Reed have been named first-team freshman All-America by Perfect Game USA. That makes for consensus freshman All-America honors for the UK duo in 2012.
Of course, unlike Davis, both Cousino and Reed will be back next season, and the one after that as well. College baseball is governed by an eligibility rule many believe college basketball should adopt. So while Davis collects millions in the professional ranks, the UK duo will be playing more college baseball.
The latest honor marks consensus freshman All-America prizes for the UK duo who are now the first Kentucky players in school history with consensus freshman All-America honors. The two standouts join former shortstop Chris Wade (2008) as the only freshman All-America selections in school history.
Cousino won the starting job during fall intrasquad games and never left the lineup as Kentucky’s leadoff man. The a native of Dublin, Ohio, led the team in batting with a .319 average and added nine homers, becoming the first UK player in school history to be voted Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by the league coaches.
Cousino was second in the conference with a team-high 20 doubles, along with 61 runs scored, likewise second in the SEC. He set new UK freshman records in hits and runs scored and finished the year with a .515 slugging percentage, a .408 on-base mark, with 41 RBI and a team-high 15 stolen bases. He also collected the second-most multiple-hit games (28) in UK single-season history.
He got it done on defense as well, setting a new UK outfielder record with 142 putouts, leading the SEC in outfield assists, confounding “experts” who criticized his supposedly weak throwing arm.
The awards have piled up for Cousino in the offseason, earning SEC Freshman of the Year, All-SEC Defensive Team and second team All-SEC honors.
Cousino can add his Perfect Game USA first-team Freshman All-America honor to his first-team freshman All-America selections from Baseball America, Louisville Slugger and a second-team nod on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association All-America list.
Reed, a lefthanded pitcher/first baseman, was selected to the Perfect Game squad first team as a utility player, following a freshman year that included a .300 batting mark, with four homers and 43 RBI to go along with a 5-3 record on the mound and 2.52 ERA.
Reed stayed busy as a position player, designated hitter and pitcher, starting starting the season as a mid-week starter on the mound before moving to the bullpen. A native of Terre Haute, Ind., tossed 53.2 innings while striking out 51 and allowing just 15 earned runs.
He might have been at his best in the post-season, which included his first start against an SEC team, that coming in the conference tournament. Reed went 5.2 shutout innings against Mississippi and was 4-for-4 at the plate with a homer in a 2-0 win.
In the 21-inning NCAA Tournament opener, Reed was downright heroic. He spent the first nine innings as the designated hitter, then moved to first base for three innings before coming on in relief for a career-high nine innings, essentially throwing a complete game in relief as he protected the Wildcats’ bullpen by soaking up innings.
Like Cousin, Reed has piled up the post-season wards, being selected to the All-SEC Freshman team twice, as the first baseman and as the designated hitter/utility player. Reed also was selected first-team freshman All-America by Baseball America, the NCBWA and Louisville Slugger.
Cousino and Reed led UK to a school-record 45 win season and the best finishes in the NCAA and SEC Tournaments in program history.
(Dick Gabriel is in his 23rd season with the UK radio and TV networks. He can be heard each Monday-Friday at 6 p.m. on the Big Blue Insider, on 630 WLAP-AM, wlap.com and I Heart Radio).