HOOVER, Ala. -- After leading Kentucky to a school-record win total during the regular season, head coach Gary Henderson has been named the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year by SEbaseball.com, it was announced on Sunday afternoon.
Henderson has helped guide the Wildcats to a 41-15 record and an 18-12 mark in the rugged SEC, with UK’s 41 wins marking the most in UK regular-season school history. He has directed a turnaround from an 8-22 mark in league play in 2011 to the second-most wins in program history in SEC action with the 18-12 mark.
The Wildcats have had a historic season in 2012, starting with a 22-game winning streak to open the year, setting a school record for the best start and the longest winning streak in program annals. UK has posted series wins over No. 2 South Carolina, Tennessee, No. 18 Georgia, No. 10 Ole Miss, No. 9 Arkansas, No. 1 LSU and Alabama. UK’s seven series wins in 2012 mark the most in program history, equaling the 2006 SEC Championship team’s series wins.
Henderson is in his fourth year at the helm of the program after taking over following UK’s 44-win season in 2008. As the associate head coach and recruiting coordinator from 2004-08, Henderson helped guide the Wildcats to the first league championship in program history in 2006.
Regarded as one of the top pitching minds in college baseball and as a tireless recruiter, Henderson has had successful assistant coaching stops at Pepperdine, Florida and Oregon State, and was tabbed as the National Assistant Coach of the Year in 1996 after helping guide the Gators to the College World Series. While at Oregon State, Henderson recruited the corp of the rosters that won back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2006-07.
“There are a few things and one is that you have to have a group of returning players that want to have a better experience,” Henderson said in an interview with SEbaseball.com’s Barry Allen in Starkville, Miss., during the weekend series. “You've got to have someone in that returning group that wants to provide leadership from inside the program. We were fortunate that we had the group of guys and those types of individuals that wanted to provide that leadership.
“I think anytime you have a good season it's really a collective effort. Its parents being on the same page and providing the same positive message to their kids in times of failure, I think is vitally important. I think it's having assistant coaches that work as hard as anybody in the country, which my guys do, is as important as anything. It is having a coaching staff that has been together for four years and we are on the same page.”
Kentucky (41-15, 18-11 SEC) will open up SEC Tournament play on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET, as the No. 4 seed, taking on No. 9 seed Ole Miss, with a win clinching a bye on Wednesday for the Wildcats. The official SEC awards will be announced following the SEC Tournament, with all 12 league coaches voting on the first and second teams and coach, player, pitcher and freshman of the year honors, in addition to an all-defensive team.