Kentucky Sports Radio

University of Kentucky Basketball, Football, and Recruiting news brought to you in the most ridiculous manner possible.


The KSR Baseball Podcast: 2018 Season Opener

It’s still January, but did you know UK Baseball is right around the corner? Before the BatCats resume play on February 16, Trey Huntsman and Coach Keith Madison are back with everything you need to prepare for what could be an historic UK baseball season.  It’s easy to get excited about the No. 8 team in the country, starting with…

—  UK has arguably the best starting pitching in all of college baseball.

—  It’s the last year of baseball at The Cliff.  Coach Madison shares his fondest memories.

—  What makes Sean Hjelle great?

—  Which pitcher has the highest ceiling?

—  An SEC Baseball preview.


You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

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KSR Baseball Preview Series: The SEC

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Winning in the SEC is never easy. There is no conference in college baseball that provides the talent and depth that the SEC does every year. 2018 will be no different. The SEC could see as many 11 teams land in the NCAA Tournament this June. It is time to look at who will contend for the SEC Title and what players will lead the nation’s premiere league in 2018.

KSR Baseball Preview Series: How Will UK Replace Former Stars?

UK Athletics

Much like Kentucky Basketball, Nick Mingione and UK Baseball have reloaded. Thanks to a solid recruiting strategy by Nick Mingione, UK is still a contender in 2018. With a handful of talented JUCO transfers and incoming freshman, the Cats have a variety of ways they could fill the shoes of some of the most successful players in UK history. Here is a look at how the Cats will replace the nine players that were drafted in 2017.

First Base

The biggest hole UK will have to fill will be at first base. Evan White was the top defensive first baseman in the country as well as a .359 hitter over his three years at UK. There is no team that could immediately fill that offensive hole like UK can. Power-hitting Kole Cottam is expected to move from catcher to first base for his junior season. Cottam proved in the Regional that he can hit for power and spray the ball to all fields. The former catcher will be an anchor in the lineup this season and should equal White’s production at the plate. UK will have a hard time replacing White’s defense at first, though. In his three seasons at UK, White committed only two errors and saved dozens of errant throws from sailing into the stands. T.J Collett is expected to see time at first and at DH as well. Collett may have the most pop of any player in UK’s lineup, but 2018 will prove whether or not he can play first base regularly.

Second Base

Riley Mahan developed into one of the best hitters for UK in 2017. Mahan led UK with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs before being taken in the third round of the 2017 Draft by Miami. It will be hard to fill Mahan’s spot in the lineup, but Nick Mingione does have some options. D1 Baseball predicts that Luke Becker will move from third to second to replace Mahan and put Luke Heyer at third. The move makes sense, but UK could also use newcomers, Garrett Hastings and Alex Rodriguez, to take some of the load off of Becker.


One of the positions that UK has very little depth is at the six spot. Connor Heady provided range at shortstop as well as power from the nine-hole in the lineup. Nick Mingione brought in a pair of infield transfers that could help to replace Heady. Former LSU shortstop Trey Dawson transferred to UK after hitting .279 for Chipola Junior College. Dawson was one of the jewels of the 2017 recruiting class. A sneaky player to watch at short could be Rodriquez. Another JUCO transfer, Rodriguez hit .372 with 12 home runs and 25 stolen bases for Northern Oklahoma College in 2017. Joey Bellini was expected to compete for playing time as well, but the defensive specialist transferred out in December.


The two corner outfield positions will have newcomers patrolling the lines. With Tristan Pompey most likely moving to center field, transfers Ryan Johnson and Ben Aklinski could fill in the other two spots. There are a handful of talented freshman outfielders that could see time, but it is safe to assume that JUCO transfers Johnson and Aklinski will see the majority of time in the outfield. Johnson started five games for TCU as a freshman in 2016 after being named an Under Armour All-American in high school. He is extremely talented and will play immediately in 2018.

Photo by Quinn Foster | UK Athletics


Of the 11 pitchers that saw a majority time out of the bullpen, only four return. One of the biggest surprises of the 2017 season was the emergence of Logan Salow. Salow struck out 73 in 55 innings while posting a 1.95 ERA as the team’s senior closer. Salow gave the Cats a closer that could be trusted in the ninth inning day in and day out. Along with Salow, UK loses flamethrower Zach Pop. The Dodgers selected Pop in the seventh round last year. Pop made 20 appearances out of the bullpen before missing the latter part of the season due to an arm injury. Salow and Pop anchored the backend of the bullpen and solidified a dominant pitching staff. In 2018, sophomore Chris Machamer will be called upon to close out games. Machamer had arm surgery last fall but has been cleared to pitch this month. The Ohio Gatorade Player of the Year in 2016, Machamer struck out 36 batters in 24 appearances last season.

Zach Logue

The only hole to fill in the rotation will be on Saturdays. Zach Logue was a heavy strikeout guy, but he allowed too many flyballs to be dominant in the SEC. UK will miss the experience of Logue, but the Justin Lewis will most likely move up to the second spot in the rotation and sophomore Zack Thompson will take over Logue’s spot in the rotation. For more on the Cats’ pitching staff, read our preview here. 

Send questions or comments to @TreyHuntsmanKSR on Twitter.


UK Baseball Position Previews: The Rotation

Photo by UK Athletics

Kentucky Baseball is a little over a month away from first pitch against Wofford. Nick Mingione and company are looking to build on their breakout season in 2017. Kentucky is ranked eighth in the Perfect Game Poll headed into the 2018 season thanks, in large part, to their dominant pitching staff. Our first position breakdown will be the pitching staff that has put Kentucky as a potential national championship contender. The projected weekend rotation consists of three future pros, Sean Hjelle, Justin Lewis, and Zack Thompson.

The SEC Pitcher of the Year

Spearheading the starting rotation is 2017 SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle. The 6’11” junior returns as a top prospect for the 2018 Draft. Hjelle struck out a team-high 102 batters in 17 starts and 108 innings in his first season as a start. Before conference play began, there was some concern if Hjelle would be able to handle SEC hitting. After the first two weeks, he was struggling against mediocre competition in non-conference play as the team’s top starter. But when the conference slate began, Hjelle flipped the script. Against SEC opponents in the regular season, Hjelle went 7-1 with a 1.90 ERA. The Minnesota-native proved in 2017 that he has the fire and attitude to pitch against the best of the best on Friday nights in the SEC. Although Coach Mingione mentioned on the KSR Baseball Podcast that Hjelle would have to earn the right to start on Fridays in 2018, it is expected that he will return to that role once again.

What makes Hjelle so special? His size? His desire to win? Both have helped him, but the junior righty is extremely talented on the mound. In his first two seasons on campus, Hjelle showed an impressive curve that could drop in and out of the zone with solid command. reported that some scouts had Hjelle hitting 98 on his fastball this fall. If Hjelle can add a mid-high 90s fastball into his repertoire, then he may repeat as Pitcher of the Year. Hjelle showed his command of three pitches in the Regional Championship against NC State. In 3.1 innings of work, Hjelle did not allow a baserunner as he helped to clinch the school’s first trip to a Super Regional. With another year to develop under his belt, look for Hjelle to dominate on the mound every Friday night.

The Return

Out of 30 selections, two players selected in the 11th round of the 2017 MLB Draft did not sign. One of those players was Justin Lewis. The redshirt junior was drafted 319th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays before deciding to return to Lexington for his fourth season. Lewis was perhaps the biggest “recruit” of the 2017 class. With Lewis returning, the Cats get back a starter that went 6-4 with a 3.56 ERA last season. Lewis has impeccable command as well as one of the top changeups in the conference. He showed his brilliant stuff last February when he took a perfect game into the eighth inning against UC Santa Barbara. After that dominant, early season performance, Lewis continued to shove throughout the year. He started every series finale for UK, including a complete game victory against LSU.

It was expected that Lewis would sign a pro contract following last season. But as the Draft unfolded, Lewis fell to day three where Tampa Bay scooped him up. On July 6th, Lewis announced that he would return to school for one more season. The decision to come back will most likely help Lewis’ draft stock for the 2018 MLB Draft. The 6’7″ righty is ranked in the top 100 prospects by Baseball America and is regarded as one of the top arms in the SEC.

UK Athletics

The Stud

Both Hjelle and Lewis project as high draft picks in the 2018 Draft. But no pitcher on this year’s staff has as high of a ceiling as Zack Thompson. With an effortless high-90s fastball and two more plus pitches, Thompson soared as a freshman. UK used Thompson in midweek games and occasionally out of the bullpen in 2017, but he will most likely be a part of this year’s weekend rotation. Thompson stuck out 96 in only 75.2 innings while accumulating a 3.45 ERA. His ridiculous first year at UK earned him consensus Freshman All-American awards.

Thompson will be a must-see attraction in 2018. The sophomore has another year of fall practice under his belt as well as experience in the NCAA Tournament. Against Indiana in an elimination game, Thompson went seven innings and picked up the win over the Hoosiers. That amount of experience will serve Thompson in 2018. Thompson will fill in Zach Logue’s spot in the weekend rotation in his second season. Of the three projected weekend starters, Thompson has the highest ceiling in the rotation. Look for Thompson to be a driving force in this year’s rotation similar to Zack Brown in 2015.


Kentucky Football is Recruiting a Kentucky Baseball Signee


A Kentucky baseball signee could also become a Kentucky football signee.

Shortstop Trevon Flowers committed to Nick Mingione’s Kentucky baseball team in July.  After taking a three-year break from football, Flowers decided to finish high school career by spending a year at free safety for Tucker High School in suburban Atlanta.

Now Division I program’s are pursuing him to play football, including Kentucky.  Defensive coordinator Matt House will have an in-home visit with Flowers tomorrow.

“I talked to (Kentucky) a little bit but I haven’t talked to them as much because it was my first year playing football again,” Flowers told Derek Terry of The Cats’ Pause. “I guess they didn’t really see it, but (House) said he watched my film. He said he was very impressed.”

Flowers has signed with the UK baseball team in November, but Mingione offered a courtesy and released him to allow other school’s to extend scholarship offers.  He now holds offers from Tennessee, Appalachian State and Illinois to play both sports.  After an exciting senior season of football, Flowers told The Cats’ Pause he wants to play both sports at the next level.

Kentucky is in a tricky spot.  There are only three or four openings left on the football team.  If Flowers does not get a football offer, he could only play baseball at UK with a partial scholarship, which probably is not enough to lure him back to Lexington.

If Flowers can pull it off, he would not be the first Wildcat to play football and baseball.  Keith Madison tried to convince Freddie Maggard to double dip.  Coach Madison successfully convinced Pookie Jones to play both, which worked out for a few seasons.

It will not be easy, but it’s not possible to foresee a future with Trevon Flowers as UK’s shortstop and free safety.

[The Cats Pause]

Perfect Game

Kentucky Baseball Picks Up A Huge Commitment

Perfect Game

The BatCats are a little over a month away from starting their second season under Nick Mingione, but that doesn’t mean that Kentucky isn’t prepping for the future. UK picked up a commitment from Jaren Shelby, the brother of former Cats JaVon and John, as a member of the 2018 recruiting class.

The former Tates Creek outfielder announced on Twitter that he would be returning to Lexington next season.

Shelby was originally a part of the 2016 class before choosing to attend JUCO for his freshman season. The son of longtime MLB outfielder John Shelby hit .284 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs in one season at State College of Florida.

Before electing to play at SCF, Shelby was regarded as one of the top outfield prospects in the country. Shelby was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Kentucky and was the eighth-ranked outfielder in the country in 2016.

The Shelby name has long been associated with UK Baseball. John Shelby III was a leader on UK’s first SEC Championship team in 2006. JaVon played three seasons at UK before being selected in the 5th round of the 2016 Draft by Oakland. There is a good chance Jaren will develop into the most talented player in his family.

The tape on Shelby shows a crazy athletic outfielder with a good amount of pop in his swing. With Tristan Pompey most likely being drafted in the first two rounds in June, Shelby could immediately fill a huge hole in 2019.

Kevin Stallings to UofL Fans: “At least we didn’t pay our players $100,000”

Jim Brown | USA Today

Even opposing head coaches are making fun of Louisville.

Last night Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings got sick and tired of hearing lip from the Yum! Center crowd. As the second half ticked away in a 77-51 loss to Louisville, Stallings responded to hecklers in the crowd: “At least we didn’t pay our players $100,000.”

Another louder clip of the exchange:

After the game, Stallings did not deny his immature antics, unlike another coach who used to frequent the Yum! Center.

WATCH: UK Baseball commercial airs during World Series

WATCH: UK Baseball commercial airs during World Series

If you watched something other than Game One of the World Series last night, you missed a new commercial for the UK Baseball team, the second year in a row the program has run an ad locally during the event.

The commercial featured highlights of last year’s exciting run, including that thrilling, weather-delayed win over NC State that sent the Cats to the Super Regional for the first time ever:

Cool stuff.

The KSR Baseball Podcast: World Series Preview with Doug Flynn and Austin Kearns

Before the Fall Classic begins between the Dodgers and the Astros, Keith Madison and Trey Huntsman are joined by a few pros to discuss the spectacular matchup.  Even though Austin Kearns used to play for the Astros, he doesn’t rib the podcast’s resident Dodger fan as much as Doug Flynn.  Highlights:


—  How UK’s World Series works.

—  A series that is evenly split…until you get to the bullpen.

—  The Series’ Biggest Question Mark

—  Austin’s strategy to hit vs. guys pitching in this World Series.

—  How Replay is Ruining Baseball

—  Doug’s World Series Experience

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Nick Mingione receives highest honor by Governor of Kentucky, named Kentucky Colonel

Kentucky head baseball coach Nick Mingione was named a Kentucky Colonel this morning, the highest title of honor bestowed by the Governor of Kentucky.

According to UK Athletics, the honor recognizes an individual whose work in the community, state, and nation is second to none.

The honor of Kentucky Colonel is a recognition of an individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to our community, state and nation. The Kentucky Colonels is a voluntary philanthropic organization and Kentucky Colonels are unwavering in devotion to faith, family, commonwealth and country. Passionate about being compassionate. Proud leaders who are gentle but strong in will and commitment.

Here was the video of the announcement:

“What an honor,” Mingione said after being commissioned. “The fact that people notice, I’m just really proud of our student-athletes because they’re the ones serving our community. The most important thing I’ve done since I got here was hire good men. Without the players and coaches, obviously, I’d never be able to receive this award.”

After winning 43 games in his first year at Kentucky, Mingione was named the 2017 SEC Coach of the Year, along with the Perfect Game/Rawlings National Coach of the Year, and he has the hype around the program at its highest in school history.

Congratulations to Nick Mingione for the incredible honor!

UK announces new voice of women’s basketball, baseball

UK announces new voice of women’s basketball, baseball

With Neil Price now calling football games in Starkville, UK has hired the new voice of women’s basketball and baseball: Darren Headrick.

Headrick has a decade’s worth of experience announcing collegiate and professional sports and was named a Baseball America Best MLB Broadcaster Prospect honoree in 2015. He will also serve as the host of the Matthew Mitchell Radio Show, Nick Mingione Radio Show, the Wildcat Sports Update, and Big Blue Weekly. He will host his first Big Blue Weekly show tonight following the Mark Stoops Radio Show.

Headrick comes to Kentucky after spending the past few years as the TV and radio play-by-play announcer for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees. A Tennessee native and UT graduate, he also spent the past few seasons calling University of Tennessee basketball, baseball, softball and soccer games on the SEC Network+.

Here are some samples of his work so you can get to know his voice:

Welcome aboard, Darren.

The KSR Baseball Podcast: MLB Playoffs

It’s October, which means Coach Keith Madison and Trey Huntsman have to get together to talk about baseball.  Trey fanboy’s over the Dodgers, they share who they think can win out and…

— Coach’s secret to watching the games with his wife.

—  Postseason award predictions.

—  A breakdown of UK baseball’s 2018 schedule.

—  The Miss. State series and UK’s multiple ties to the program.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.

Breaking Down Kentucky’s Baseball Schedule

Photo by UK Athletics

Kentucky Baseball announced their full 2018 schedule this morning, and it packs quite a punch. The loaded schedule includes 25 games against 11 2017 NCAA Tournament teams and a trip to the Shriners Classic in Houston. 2018 will be a continuation of Nick Mingione’s bravery to face top teams throughout the year. Here is a look at what is to come in year two of the Mingione Era.

Texas Tech Comes to Lexington

The Red Raiders will ride into town to play UK on March 9-11. Tim Tadlock has established TTU as a contender in only five years in Lubbock. With an appearance in the College World Series and three Regional appearances in four years, the Raiders are back as a powerhouse in the Big-12. It will be the second consecutive year that a CWS team west of the Mississippi comes to the Cliff for an early season series. Last year, the Cats swept UC Santa Barbara in a series that sent the Cats on a huge winning streak. Texas Tech is a lot more talented than UCSB, and this series will certainly be one of the highest billed bouts in non-conference play across the country.

The Shriners Classic Will Put UK on a National Stage

Minute Maid Park plays host to a field of top 25 teams every year in the Shriners Classic. This year, Kentucky will take on Houston, Sam Houston State, and Louisiana Lafayette in Houston. Mississippi State and Vanderbilt will round out the field of six teams. Both Houston and SHSU were regional teams and Lafayette has been a dominant force in the Sun Belt for the last five years. There is no word on if the Classic will be on TV, but in past years FS1 picked up the games. UK will also play four games in Spartanburg, South Carolina to open the season.

SEC Play Will Test UK Early and Often

After a difficult non-conference slate, UK will have an extremely difficult SEC schedule. Home conference series include Auburn, South Carolina, defending champions Florida, Missouri, and Mississippi State. The Cats will travel to take on Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt.

Where are the home midweek games?

As our Twitter friend @cameronmalcolm5 points out, the Cats don’t have an abundance of home games in the middle of the week. UK will play at Xavier, Louisville, Murray State, Indiana, and Western Carolina in midweek games. It is a strange idea, but one that will do the Cats a lot of good come tournament time. The road tests will be good for midweek starters to take on tougher competition away from home.

In summary, this schedule is solid. There are plenty of tough games out of conference, but nothing that will break the team’s back early. UK will be on a national stage this year, and this schedule will prove whether or not they are ready to contend in 2018.

Nick Mingione signs extension to keep him at UK through 2022

UK head baseball coach (and KSR radio personality) Nick Mingione has signed a contract extension that will keep him at Kentucky through the end of the 2022 season, Mitch Barnhart announced on Friday.

“The progress our program has made in one year under Nick’s leadership is outstanding,” Barnhart said in the release. “We are committed to making Kentucky baseball a consistent winner both in the Southeastern Conference and on a national level and he is the coach to make that happen. We are excited to have Nick and his family in Lexington for a long time.”

The 2017 SEC Coach of the Year and Perfect Game/Rawlings National Coach of the Year, Mingione led the Cats to the school’s first ever trip to the Super Regionals this past season, his first in Lexington. UK won 43 games overall in 2017 and 19 in SEC play — the second most in school history — after being picked in the bottom half of the league in the preseason. Those 43 wins are also the most for a first-year UK head coach.

The new deal adds one year to Mingione’s current contract, which he originally signed last summer when he was hired. His total base compensation (base salary plus broadcasting and endorsements) will be $575,000 ($400,000 in base salary plus $175,000 in broadcasting and endorsements) for each of the next five years. That represents an increase of $150,000 for 2017-18, $100,000 for 2018-19, and $50,000 for 2019-20 and no increase for 2020-21.

“I’m very appreciative of the commitment Mitch Barnhart, President Capilouto and the University of Kentucky have shown to our baseball program,” Mingione said. “My wife and I love Lexington and could not be more excited about being a part of this university and community. I’m also thrilled the rest of the coaching staff is being rewarded for their remarkable efforts in our first season here.”

The KSR Baseball Podcast: Nick Mingione on Recruiting with 11.7 Scholarships

Did you know college baseball teams are only allotted 11.7 scholarships for 35 players?  UK baseball coach Nick Mingione joins the program to talk about the complicated balancing act in baseball recruiting.  He also discussed with Trey Hunstman, Keith Madison and Nick Roush…


—  The hardest part of Nick Mingione’s job.

—  Does the Coach like social media in recruiting?

—  Mingione’s Monday Motivational Minute: Pride vs. Responsibility.

—  Fall Ball is about to begin with Scrimmages open to the public each Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at The Cliff.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to “Kentucky Sports Radio” on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.