The Kentucky baseball team had plenty to cheer for at the end of last season. In 2008, the Wildcats tied a school record with 44 wins and advancing to the Ann Arbor NCAA Regional Championship.
Just five days after Kentucky lost to Arizona at regional, head coach John Cohen resigns to take the head coaching job at Mississippi State.
Kentucky did not miss a beat and announced associate head coach and pitching coach, Gary Henderson as the new skipper the same day of Cohen's resignation.
"I am very excited to be named the Kentucky baseball coach," Henderson said and reported on catspause.com. "It has been a true honor to work for coach Cohen, Mitch Barnhart and Rob Mullens over the past five years. I felt when I was coming here that we could do some great things at Kentucky and that Mitch would support the program however necessary to make is successful. I look forward to getting back to work at cementing UK's position among the elite programs in the nation."
Then Kentucky went on to sign there best recruiting class in school history and the fourth best class in the nation. However, baseball in the SEC is very difficult.
The recruiting class was only the third best in the SEC behind baseball power LSU and Florida.
In 2008, Kentucky ranked at the top in almost every category in pitching and defense units. They expect to stay there in the 2009 season.
That will be hard to do after losing two All-Americans in Collin Cowgill and Sawyer Carroll. Both outfield players led Kentucky in almost every offense category.
Kentucky also lost starting and quality pitchers in Greg Dombrowski, Andrew Albers, Brock Baber, Aaron Lovett and Scott Green.
UK will return first-team All-SEC starting pitcher Chris Rusin. Also returning is pitcher James Paxton, freshman All-America shortstop Chris Wade, and top SEC third baseman Chris McClendon.
The 2008 University of Kentucky roster looks like this:
- Chris Bisson, INF, So.
- Sean Bouthilette, RHP, Fr.
- Andy Burns, INF, Fr.
- Will Campbell, 1B/OF, Jr.
- Logan Darnell, LHP, So.
- T.J. Daugherty, C, RS Fr.
- Cory Farris, C/OF, Fr.
- Duran Ferguson, RHP, RS So.
- Troy Frazier, OF, Jr.
- Gunner Glad, INF/OF/RHP, Jr.
- Chase Greene, RHP, Fr.
- Navarro Hall, OF, RS Fr.
- Tyler Henry, RHP, Jr.
- Jonathan Huff, RHP, Sr.
- Neiko Johnson, INF, So.
- Mike Kaczmarek, LHP, So.
- Braden Kapteyn, INF/RHP, Fr.
- Nick Kennedy, RHP, Jr.
- Spencer Korus, INF/OF, Sr.
- Chris McClendon, INF, Sr.
- Alex Meyer, RHP, Fr.
- Marcus Nidiffer, C, Jr.
- James Paxton, LHP, Jr.
- Bryan Rose, OF, So.
- Chris Rusin, LHP, Sr.
- Brain Suerdick, C, So.
- Clint Tilford, RHP, Jr.
- Chris Wade, INF, So.
- Keenan Wiley, OF, Jr.
- Michael Williams, C, Fr.
- Brock Wright, OF, Jr.
- Chad Wright, OF, Jr.
The 2009 Kentucky baseball schedule will consist of: 27 games against 2008 NCAA tournament teams, Two College World Series teams, 17 clubs that finished in RPI-Top 100, combined record of teams for 2008 are 909-692 (.568).
"We are extremely pleased with our 2009 schedule," Henderson announced and reported on UKathletics.com."One of our goals in putting together the schedule was to increase our overall RPI and present a more challenging non-conference slate, including a tough opening-season tournament at Coastal Carolina. Playing in the best conference in college baseball, we will always play 10 of the top teams in the nation, and it was important for us to be challenged outside of conference action as well."
- February 20- Troy (32-26 74 RPI) @ Coastal Carolina Tournament
- February 21- James Madison (39-19 61 RPI) @ Coastal Carolina Tournament
- February 21 & 22- Coastal Carolina (50-14 8 RPI) @ Coastal Carolina Tournament
- February 27 & 8, March 1- Western Michigan (29-23 195 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 3- Wright State (30-23 180 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 4- Eastern Kentucky (26-27 212 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 6,7 & 8- Indiana State (18-32 146 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 11- Indiana (31-30 129 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 13,14 & 15- LSU (49-14 8 RPI) @ LSU
- March 16- Nicholls State (10-44 269 RPI) @ Nicholls State
- March 17- New Orleans (43-21 47 RPI) @ New Orleans
- March 20,21 & 22- Vanderbilt (41-22 35 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 24- West Virginia (35-27 103 RPI) @ West Virginia
- March 25- Cincinnati (39-20 85 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 27,28 & 29- South Carolina (40-23 23 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- March 31- Marshall (30-30 72 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- April 3,4 &5- Ole Miss (39-26 39 RPI) @ Ole Miss
- April 7- Western Kentucky (32-27 84 RPI) @ Western Kentucky
- April 8- Western Kentucky (32-27 84 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- April 10,11, & 12- Georgia (45-25 11 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- April 14- Louisville (41-21 55 RPI) @ Louisville
- April 17,18 & 19- Mississippi State (23-33 127 RPI) @ Mississippi State
- April 21- Ohio State (30-26 137 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- April 22- Evansville (14-42 278 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- April 24,25 & 26- Alabama (35-28 48 RPI) @ Alabama
- April 28- Louisville (41-21 55 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- May 1,2 & 3- Tennessee (27-29 96 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- May 8,9 & 10- Auburn (28-28 69 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- May 12- Morehead State (18-33 261 RPI) Cliff Hagen Stadium
- May 14,15 & 16- Florida (34-24 21 RPI) @ Florida
- May 20,21,22,23,24 & 25- SEC Tournament @ Hoover, Alabama
Kentucky has earned a No. 19 national ranking in the preseason Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and a No. 23 in the preseason National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll.