TUSCON, Ariz. — For the second consecutive year, the Kentucky baseball team has earned a preseason national ranking, checking in as the No. 20 team in college baseball during the preseason, the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper announced Friday.

The Wildcats are coming off the most successful two-year run in the 103-year history of the UK baseball program, running up 78 wins since 2006. The preseason ranking marks the second preseason honor in as many years for UK, as the Wildcats began the season ranked No. 27 in the 2007 preseason Collegiate Baseball poll. UK was also tabbed by as the 23rd-ranked team and as the 30th-ranked team by Baseball America, in the 2007 preseason.

Kentucky returns one of the top teams in the nation, boosted by sluggers Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill. The duo joined right-hander Scott Green as member of the 2008 Brooks Wallace National Player of the Year Preseason Watch list, an award annually given to the top player in collegiate baseball.

Carroll, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound left-handed hitter, emerged for the Wildcats in 2007, batting .350 (75-for-214), with 56 RBI and three homers. Carroll finished the regular season as the Southeastern Conference leader in doubles, cranking out 23 two-baggers. Carroll, who was a 18th round MLB draft pick of the Washington Nationals in 2007, reached base safely in 51 of UK?s 54 games last season.

> Cowgill, a Lexington native and former Kentucky High School Mr. Baseball, missed the 2007 season after injuring his hand in preseason. As one of the top positional players during 2006, Cowgill batted .298 with 16 home runs and 61 RBI, while helping lead UK to its first SEC Championship in school history. After sitting out the 2007 season, Cowgill returned to form during the summer in the Cape Cod League, batting .290 with two home runs, four doubles, four triples, and 20 RBI, earning Cape Cod All-Star honors. Tabbed as the outfielder with the best arm during the preseason of 2007 by Baseball America, Cowgill brings not only a veteran, slugging approach at the plate for the Wildcats, but is also one of the top defensive outfielders in college baseball.

Green, who was tabbed the 12th-best prospect in college baseball by Baseball America in October, had an outstanding summer in the Cape Cod League, as a member of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, the same squad as Cowgill. Green and Cowgill led the Y-D Red Sox to the CCL Championship this summer, with Green earning a 3-1 record, a save, and a 1.56 ERA in nine games. Green tossed 40.1 innings, striking out 35, earning the designation as the fourth-best prospect in the talent-rich Cape Cod by Baseball America.

All 12 SEC teams are either receiving votes or in the top-40 in the Collegiate Baseball poll, with South Carolina (No. 2), Ole Miss (No. 4), Vanderbilt (No. 11), Kentucky (No. 20), Mississippi State (No. 27), and LSU (No. 30) rounding out the SEC?s ranked teams. Georgia, Alabama, 2007 SEC West Division Champion Arkansas, Tennessee, Florida, and Auburn are all receiving votes. Louisville, one of UK?s non-conference foes, is ranked No. 23 in the Collegiate Baseball poll.

The Wildcats open their season with the Coca-Cola Classic in Mobile, Ala., facing off with Xavier on February 22.

 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's NCAA Div. I Pre-Season Poll (As of Dec. 21, 2007) Rk School ('07 Final Record) Points 1. Arizona (42-17) 496 2. South Carolina (46-20) 493 3. Arizona St. (49-15) 491 4. Mississippi (40-25) 487 5. North Carolina (57-16) 486 6. Rice (56-14) 483 7. San Diego (43-18) 481 8. Texas (46-17) 478 9. Wichita St. (53-22) 476 10. Michigan (42-19) 473 11. Vanderbilt (54-13) 471 12. Florida St. (49-13) 468 13. Clemson (41-23) 466 14. Miami, Fla. (37-24) 464 15. Missouri (42-18) 461 16. Cal. St. Fullerton (38-25) 459 17. Long Beach St. (39-20) 455 18. UCLA (33-28) 452 19. Oregon St. (49-18) 451 20. Kentucky (34-19-1) 447 21. Fresno St. (38-29) 446 22. Texas A&M (48-19) 443 23. Louisville (47-24) 440 24. Virginia (45-16) 437 25. Georgia Tech. (32-25) 434 26. U.C. Irvine (47-17-1) 432 27. Mississippi St. (38-22) 430 28. Baylor (35-27) 428 29. Pepperdine (35-22) 426 30. LSU (29-26-1) 423 31. Oklahoma St. (42-21) 420 32. Louisiana-Lafayette (45-17) 419 33. Southern Illinois (34-22) 415 34. Southern Miss. (39-23) 413 35. U.C. Riverside (38-21) 411 36. Stetson (42-21) 408 37. Coastal Carolina (50-13) 406 38. Nebraska (32-27) 405 39. California (29-26) 403 40. Oral Roberts (40-17) 400 OTHER TEAMS RECEIVING VOTES: Georgia, Alabama, Creighton, South Florida, Notre Dame, Winthrop, Arkansas, Old Dominion, Texas-San Antonio, New Orleans, Oklahoma, East Carolina, Tulane, Kent St., Houston, Central Michigan, Texas Christian, Central Florida, Lamar, Southeastern Louisiana, Florida Atlantic, Charlotte, Gonzaga, Santa Clara, Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Southern California, Stanford, Washington, Washington St., College of Charleston, Rutgers, Western Carolina, Penn. St., Minnesota, Ohio St., North Carolina St., Wake Forest, Hawaii, Virginia Commonwealth, Louisiana Tech., Nevada, LeMoyne, Troy, Kennesaw St., Richmond, St. John's, Old Dominion, Austin Peay, Southern. 

Related Stories

View all