FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
This is the third in a five-part installment previewing the 2009 University of Cincinnati baseball season. UC opens its 2009 campaign on Friday, Feb. 20, at the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Baseball Challenge. The Bearcats play Purdue University at 1 p.m. at the Raymond A. Naimoli Complex in St. Petersburg, Fla.
While the catchers and middle infielders are filled with new faces, the corners will be held down by veterans of the Bearcats program. Junior Kevin Johnson and senior Mike Spina enter their second season as starters at first base and third base, respectively.
Johnson got off to a hot start last season and finished with seven home runs, 34 RBI, and a .250 average. Defensively, Johnson owned a .991 fielding percentage last season and his defensive skills were acknowledged this past summer as he earned the Rawlings Finest in the Field Award as the top fielder for the St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwoods Summer League.
Spina had BIG EAST MVP caliber numbers last season en route to second-team all-conference accolades. Spina ranked in the Top 12 in the conference in nine statistical categories, including ranking first in RBI (79), slugging percentage (.731), and tying for first in home runs (21). Spina has been named to the 2009 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Watch List and was a preseason second-team all-America selection by RecruitingCloser.com.
Freshman Cory Hough will look to gain valuable experience learning behind Johnson, and he will be counted on at the mound as well.