Baseball Cats ranked No. 8 in preseason poll

Baseball Cats ranked No. 8 in preseason poll

Kentucky baseball has earned the highest preseason ranking in the history of the program.

Kentucky baseball has earned the highest preseason ranking in the history of the program.

The Wildcats will open the season ranked No. 8, according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Top 40 poll. Kentucky's previous high ranking going into a season was No. 19 in 2009.

Gary Henderson's squad is coming off the best season in the 117-year history of the program, claiming a school-record 45 wins in 2012 and posting its best finishes in both the SEC and NCAA Tournaments.

UK returns one of the most talent-laden rosters in college baseball for 2013, including preseason All-Americans in centerfielder Austin Cousino, left-handed starting pitcher Corey Littrell and two-way standout A.J. Reed. The Cats return seven of their nine starters in the field, including dynamic middle-infield duo J.T. Riddle and Matt Reida, and a starting outfield of Cousino, Lucas Witt and Zac Zellers.

On the mound, Littrell and senior southpaw Jerad Grundy give UK two of its three-man SEC weekend rotation from a year ago. Reed, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound southpaw, is coming off the third-best ERA in the Cape Cod League during the summer and could give UK its second consecutive season with three left-handed pitchers in the weekend rotation.

UK's bullpen returns record-setting closer Trevor Gott, who shattered the school-record with nine saves in 2012 and paced the Wildcats to a staggering 40-0 record when leading after seven innings.

Kentucky opens the 2013 season on Feb. 15 in Spartansburg, S.C., against UNC-Asheville at Wofford.

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