Rusin named to preseason All-SEC team

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A year after becoming Kentucky’s first, first-team All-Southeastern Conference pitcher in 11 years, UK senior southpaw Chris Rusin has been tabbed preseason All-SEC by

“We feel like Chris was the best starting pitcher in the SEC last year, earning first-team All-League honors,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said. “He is an absolute vital part to this year’s success and his leadership and veteran presence will be critical for our club.”

Rusin, a native of Canton, Mich., had a career year in 2008, earning the coaches’ distinction as one of three pitchers – and two starting pitchers – on the All-SEC first-team, joining Florida’s Patrick Keating and Georgia closer Joshua Fields. Rusin, who earned a 2.63 ERA in five starts on the road a year ago – including two complete games – became the first UK pitcher to earn first-team All-SEC accolades since MLB setup man Scott Downs in 1997.

In 2008, Rusin solidified himself as one of the top pitchers in the college game, showing remarkable consistency with nine of his 13 starting assignments going as quality starts. The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder had his numbers skewed at the end of the season, as an injury-riddled 1.1 inning start in the NCAA Regional opening game at Michigan inflated his season ERA to 3.33. Without the 1.1 innings in Ann Arbor, Mich., – the worst statistical outing of his sparkling three-year career – Rusin finished the year with a 2.84 ERA in 82.1 innings. Preseason All-SEC

C: Bryce Massanari, Georgia

1B: Rich Poythress, Georgia

2B: Ryan Schimpf, LSU

SS: Josh Rutledge, Alabama

3B: Josh Adams, Florida

OF: Kentrail Davis, Tennessee

OF: Blake Dean, LSU

OF: Chase Leavitt, Arkansas

DH: Hunter Morris, Auburn

SP: Mike Minor, Vanderbilt

SP: Chris Rusin, Kentucky

SP: Trevor Holder, Georgia

RP: Scott Bittle, Ole Miss

UK Picked to Finish Fourth in SEC East by

A year after a fourth-place finish overall in the Southeastern Conference, Kentucky has been tabbed to finish fourth in the rugged SEC Eastern Division, announced college baseball editor Kendall Rogers.

Kentucky, riding a school-record 122 wins over the last three seasons, was selected to finish fourth behind Georgia, Florida and Vanderbilt, with South Carolina tabbed fifth and Tennessee sixth in the extensive preseason SEC preview. Defending Western Division champion LSU is picked to defend its title in 2009, with Ole Miss, Alabama and Arkansas close behind. New Auburn head coach John Pawlowski’s club is tabbed to finish fifth in the West, with first-year Mississippi State head coach John Cohen’s 2009 team picked in last place in the division.

With 122 wins over the last three years, UK ranks fourth in the conference, behind only Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and South Carolina.

Kentucky, ranked as high as No. 19 in the preseason, begins its 2009 season with the Caravelle Resort Tournament in Conway, S.C., facing off with No. 22 Coastal Carolina, Troy and James Madison. UK opens with Troy on Feb. 20. SEC Preview Predicted Order of Finish

Eastern Division

1. Georgia

2. Florida

3. Vanderbilt

4. Kentucky

5. South Carolina

6. Tennessee

Western Division

1. LSU

2. Ole Miss

3. Alabama

4. Arkansas

5. Auburn

6. Mississippi State