Impact freshmen are precious commodities. Unless your name is John Calipari, rarely can you find young players hot out of high school ready to enter a starting role in any sport and compete at the highest level, especially in a league as deep as the Southeastern Conference. It takes time to get comfortable in a new environment, develop a new routine, get stronger, or learn the play book. But the Kentucky basketball team isn’t the only squad in Lexington with All-American freshmen.
Gary Henderson and the UK baseball team continue to rake in awards, this time from Perfect Game USA and their freshman All-American team honors. Center fielder Austin Cousino and two-way player A.J. Reed were both named to the team, making them the first consensus freshman All-Americans in school history after they were named to the team by Baseball America in early July.
They join former UK short stop Chris Wade, who was named to the team by Baseball America in 2008, as the only UK baseball players to be honored as freshman.
Cousino was a starter from day one, taking charge while patrolling the outfield, his confidence never wavered. He led the team in batting average (.319), doubles (20), runs scored (61), and stolen bases (15). He also contributed with a .515 slugging percentage, a .408 on-base percentage, and 41 RBI. He didn’t stop at the dish either; his 142 putouts in center set a new UK outfielder record.
In addition to being a Perfect Game USA freshman All-American, Cousino was also named to the freshman All-American team by Baseball America and Louisville Slugger. He also earned SEC Freshman of the Year, All-SEC Defensive Team and second-team All-SEC honors.
For the utility man A.J. Reed, he saw his action as a southpaw pitcher and first baseman. His freshman season ended with a .300 batting average, four home runs and 43 RBI, while posting a 2.52 ERA in 53.2 innings from the mound. He struck out 51 batters and allowed just 15 earned runs.
Reed was selected to the All-SEC Freshman team twice, once as a first baseman and again as a designated hitter/utility player. He was also selected first-team freshman All-American by Baseball America, Louisville Slugger and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Unlike the other All-Americans Kentucky typically sees on the court, these All-Americans will be back in the Blue and White for another year. There is no one-and-done in college baseball. You either commit to your team for three seasons, or you go to a junior college and test the waters after each season. Cousino and Reed will be back not only next season, but the season after that. Do you smell Omaha yet?