When Austin Cousino arrived on the Kentucky campus this past fall, he was hoping to be able to make a contribution to the Wildcats baseball team as a true freshman. He certainly never dreamed of a season like this.
Cousino led the team with a .330 batting average (75-for-227) with 19 doubles, nine home runs and 38 RBIs in 55 games and has been named the 2012 SEC Freshman of the Year by SEBaseball.com.
"I came in humbled," Cousino said. "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."
He led the Wildcats in hitting, total hits, doubles and stolen bases as a true freshman.
"He has had a tremendous impact," UK head coach Gary Henderson said of his leadoff hitter. "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."
The Dublin, Ohio native ranks second in the SEC in runs scored (56), doubles (19) and at-bats (227) this season. He also ranks third in total bases (123) and plate appearances (264) seventh in hits (75), eighth in home runs (9) and ninth in slugging (.542).
"I had a good fall with the team and with the players around us and previous SEC players, I knew we would be able to compete and I hoped that I could play with some of the best players in the country," Cousino added. "That is what I set my expectations for and I wanted to come out here and prove myself.
"It shows how good our team is. It's not just one or two players hitting and scoring runs, or just one pitcher. I would not be getting this award if were not for the rest of the lineup, our pitching staff or the bullpen who goes out there and puts zeroes on the board. I give a lot of credit to other guys on the team. "
In SEC play, he led the league with 31 runs scored and ranks second in doubles (10), fourth in home runs (6) and plate appearances (142), fifth in slugging (.543) and sixth in on-base percentage (.417).
"There has not really been one ah-ha moment," Henderson said. "We thought he was going to be pretty good when he came in, but I wouldn't be honest if I said he would do that 56 times in the leadoff role. That is a little much for a freshman."
No. 4 Kentucky will open the 2012 SEC Tournament against No. 9 seed Ole Miss on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. and the game will be televised by SportSouth.