HOOVER, Ala. -- After leading Kentucky in nearly every offensively category during a historic 2012 regular season, centerfielder Austin Cousino has been named Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year by SEbaseball.com, it was announced on Monday morning.
A native of Dublin, Ohio, Cousino has been a driving force behind the historic regular season turned in by the Wildcats. The 5-foot-10, 178-pound left-handed hitter, has started 55 of 56 games in centerfield and as the leadoff sparkplug for Kentucky.
Cousino – a selection to the 22-man 2012 USA Collegiate National Team – has hit .330 during his freshman season, with 19 doubles, one triple, nine homers and 38 RBI, stealing 11 bases and pacing the conference with eight outfield assists.
Cousino has started all 30 conference games for UK, batting a team-best .302 in league action with 10 doubles, six homers and 17 RBI, drawing a team-high 14 walks and swiping six bags vs. the SEC. He ranks among the SEC leaders in nearly every offensively category in 2012, ranking ninth in slugging (.542), second in runs (56), seventh in hits (75), second in doubles (19), eighth in homers (nine) and third in total bases (123).
SEbaseball.com also tabbed UK’s Gary Henderson as the SEC Coach of the Year on Sunday. The official conference awards, voted on by the league coaches, are not released until the conclusion of the SEC Tournament.
“I came in humbled,” Cousino said in his interview with SEbaseball.com’s Barry Allen at Mississippi State last weekend. “I knew I had a great supporting cast. We have a great coaching staff, hitting and pitching and defense to come in here and have a great season. I started off at the top of the order and I wanted to lead by example and provide spark plug for the offense and as the centerfield just be the anchor for the outfield defense. So far things have gone well. I came in humbled and level-headed and tried do the things I needed to do to help this team win.”
Cousino has set new UK freshmen records in hits (75) and runs scored (56) and ranks among the program’s top three in freshmen history in doubles, homers and RBI.
“He has had a tremendous impact,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said in Starkville over the weekend. “He brings a lot of confidence. He brings a lot of production. He is a guy that had a lot of success before he got us and he has had a tremendous freshman year. He has maintained that leadoff spot in the lineup for the entire year and for a freshman in our league that is really tough to do. He has played well-above average in centerfield and he continues to improve as a base runner.”
Kentucky (41-15, 18-12 SEC) opens the SEC Tournament as the No. 4 seed, taking on No. 9 seed Ole Miss at 10:30 a.m. ET at Regions Park on Tuesday in Hoover, Ala.