TERRE HAUTE —
Two-way sophomore standout A.J. Reed was one of three University of Kentucky players named third-team preseason All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Reed’s 2012 season earned him consensus first-team freshman All-America honors after he batted .300 (60 for 200) with nine doubles, four homers and 43 RBIs and was 5-3 with a 2.52 ERA on the mound.
A 6-foot-4, 240-pound lefty, the Terre Haute South graduate worked 53.2 innings, walking only nine and striking out 51. He finished 2012 ranked second on the team and 11th in the SEC in RBIs and led UK in hitting against SEC foes, batting .324 with two homers and 15 RBIs. Reed was completely dominating on the mound in 2012; without his final non-conference start of the year, he went 5-2 with a 1.76 ERA in 51 innings.
Reed starred in the postseason for the Wildcats, including going 4 for 4 as the No. 4 hitter and starting pitcher against Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament opener, tossing 5.2 shutout innings and belting the game-winning homer off Rebels ace Bobby Wahl.
Days later, while UK was locked in a 21-inning marathon with No. 25 Kent State in the NCAA Tournament opener, Reed played the first nine innings at DH, moved to first for three innings and then took the mound to toss a career-high nine innings in relief. Following the season, Reed was a force in the Cape Cod League, ranking third in the circuit in ERA (2.32).
Reed became the first consensus first-team freshman All-America in program history in 2012 as a two-way threat. Reed was also one of five UK players listed among the top NCAA prospects in their respective class, being ranked as the No. 16 sophomore.
He is expected to see regular action both as a designated hitter and on the mound this spring.
“We have four guys in my mind who can easily be weekend starters,” Coach Gary Henderson said in his preseason press conference. “Definitely Jerad [Grundy] and Corey [Littrell] and A.J.”
• Small world at Stanford — A Stanford University football coach with long-standing ties to Terre Haute has been promoted on the Cardinal staff to replace another assistant with new ties to Terre Haute.
Former Cardinal quarterback Tavita Pritchard, son of Terre Haute native Kelli Miller Pritchard, is the team’s new running backs coach. Pritchard served the past two years served as a defensive assistant and worked closely with associate head coach/defensive coordinator Derek Mason.
He started 19 games at quarterback for Stanford during the 2007 and 2008 seasons that reignited the Cardinal program, including the seminal 24-23 victory at USC as a 41-point underdog in his first career start.
“Tavita Pritchard is one of the brightest young coaches I have ever been around,” said Coach David Shaw. “He has been phenomenal helping Derek Mason on defense. He was instrumental to the turnaround of our program when he was our starting quarterback and a team leader. I’m excited to have him back on our offense coaching the running backs.”
Pritchard’s new position came open when Mike Sanford Jr. — son of the new Indiana State coach — was promoted to take over Stanford’s quarterbacks and wide receivers, while continuing his duties as recruiting coordinator.
“The last two years, Mike Sanford has done a great job with our running backs. Now I am able to move him back to his natural position in the passing game,” said Shaw. “He played quarterback and assisted us while we coached the quarterbacks in 2007-08. He has worked with our quarterbacks and wide receivers in ball handling and protections. Now he will do a great job working with me to continue developing our passing game.”
• Familiar names on Payton list — Indiana State’s Shakir Bell did not win the Walter Payton Award last fall for the nation’s best FCS player, after finishing runner-up the year before, but still placed 12th in the balloting with 57 rating points.
The winner was Old Dominion sophomore quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who led ODU to a 10-1 mark in the regular season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder from Atlanta led the FCS in passing yards (4,158), total yards (4,535), touchdown passes (35) and points responsible for (24.2 per game). He rushed for 377 yards and eight touchdowns.
Eastern Illinois wide receiver Erik Lora placed fourth in the voting, while running back Zach Zenner of South Dakota State was seventh, EIU quarterback Jimmy Garappolo was 10th and running back Jamaine Cook of Youngstown State was 20th.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter and copy editor who now teaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at tribstar