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By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 25th, 2016 @ 9:00am
Since the season ended, it feels like we’ve been waiting on a lot of decisions. From Tyler Ulis, Jamal Murray, and Skal Labissiere leaving the program for the NBA to Marques Bolden picking Duke, there hasn’t been a lot of good news concerning next year’s roster; however, that could change today. Isaiah Briscoe and Marcus Lee have until midnight tonight to tell the NCAA whether or not they intend to stay in the NBA Draft or return to school.
Right now, it looks like a toss-up. Well outside the major mock drafts, both probably should return to school, but that doesn’t mean they will. Briscoe has performed well in workouts and clearly enjoyed the process. If he has a promise from an NBA team to draft him, I think that would be pretty hard for him to pass up. Same with Lee, although the likelihood of an NBA team taking a chance on him seems lower. Yesterday, CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish predicted both will return to UK, and Jeff Goodman, the only media person who’s been in contact with Lee throughout this process, said Lee will make an announcement through UK today, but gave no indication which way it would go.
Thankfully, we’ll know soon. Keep an eye on KSR throughout the day for the latest. Personally, I’m rooting like hell for them to come back, not only because I think another year at UK would do their NBA stock some good, but because I think this team needs them, not only from a basketball standpoint, but from a locker room standpoint.
Elsewhere in UK land…
Matthew Mitchell’s new staff is complete
Yesterday, UK Hoops announced the addition of Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Lin Dunn to the staff. The 69-year-old Dunn is a longtime veteran in the college and WNBA coaching ranks and is the final piece to Mitchell’s staff, which also includes Kyra Elzy, Niya Butts, and Amber Smith. The addition has been universally praised throughout the women’s basketball coaching world, and let’s just hope it goes over as well with recruits.
UK Baseball’s season is likely over
The Bat Cats lost to Alabama 5-2 yesterday in the SEC Tournament, the second year in a row they’ve been knocked out in the first round. This is just the latest in a disappointing slide for UK, and will likely end their chances of making the College World Series. Going forward, there are certainly a lot of questions about how such a promising season went south so quickly.
This adorable Thunder fan made my morning
A photo posted by Oklahoma City Thunder (@okcthunder) on
The Thunder beat the Warriors 118-94 last night to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals, which I doubt many of us saw coming. Shoutout to this adorable fan for the best Steven Adams costume I’ve ever seen. Adams and Enes Kanter make up the ‘Stache Brothers, and it’s fun to see the New Zealand center get a following.
Meanwhile, will someone give my man Nazr Mohammed some love, please?
A video posted by Nazr Mohammed (@nazrmohammed) on
Personally, I have about a million questions for my favorite UK player growing up, like, “How does it feel to have one of the longest NBA careers in UK Basketball history?”. Or, “Did Rick Pitino really make you run after the bus to lose weight in college?”.
Anyone been to Montego Bay, Jamaica?
On Saturday, my husband and I are headed to Jamaica with six of our friends, and, I won’t lie, I’m counting down the minutes ’til our departure. This is my first trip to Jamaica, and although we plan on getting our money’s worth from our all-inclusive, I would like to go off the resort at least a few times. Any recs? I hear Margaritaville is actually a really big attraction there (who knew) and the jerk chicken is a must.
KSR in an hour
Tune in for the latest on Lee and Briscoe.
Kentucky will likely have their season end the same way as 2015. The BatCats lost in the first round of the SEC Tournament for the second straight season with a 5-2 defeat against Alabama. UK never led as Alabama jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning. Evan White’s solo home run and Riley Mahan’s RBI double cut the lead to one, but Will Haynie’s two run bomb in the 9th ended all hope for UK.
Zach Logue pitched well in 5.2 innings for the Cats. The sophomore allowed two earned runs and three total in the third inning. An error by Mahan and some infield confusion led to a bases loaded jam with one out. Logue walked in a run before Hunter Webb drove two runs home on an RBI single to center. Nick Eicholtz would not need anything else on the mound. Eicholtz allowed two runs on three hits in 6.2 innings for the Tide. He held Kentucky’s offense at bay outside of White’s homer and a small rally in the 7th. Dorian Hairston walked and advanced to second before Mahan doubled down the line to score him.
Eicholtz was pulled in the 7th and Matt Foster entered. Foster and Thomas Burrows shut down UK’s offense for the remainder of the way. Haynie destroyed all hope with a monster home run ball to left field in the top of the ninth. It was the only blimish on a great performance by Zach Pop. Both Logue and Pop competed well in the biggest games of their young careers.
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 25, 2016
The loss will likely end Kentucky’s chances of making the field of 64. Kentucky is now 32-25 (15-16) on the season and will have an RPI around 60 after tonight. Their are many questions moving forward about returning players and coaches, but don’t make any assumptions at this point. Aaron Fitt answered questions about coaching positions at UK and he was spot on. It’s always tough to lose the first game of the conference tournament, especially when a team has as many errors as they had hits in a loss.
Salt has been thrown on the wound. Former Wildcat forward Batouly Camara has committed to play for UCONN, according to the New Haven Register.
During her freshman season, Camara averaged 5.1 points and 4.3 rebounds in 18.3 minutes per game. That might not seem like much, but don’t be fooled; Camara exponentially improved throughout the season, finishing the final 13 games as a 6’2″ starter at power forward.
In related news, former assistant Tamika Williams-Jeter has found a new job as an assistant coach at Penn State.
Losing players hurts. Losing a half dozen players hurts even more. Losing one that’s good enough to play for UCONN…OUCH.
7:26: Cats fall 5-2 after going 1-2-3 in the 9th. UK’s season likely over.
7:16 Will Haynie crushes a two-run bomb and Bama leads 5-2. UK may have just watched their tournament hopes sail over the left field wall.
7:06 Reks strikes out swinging to end the 8th and strands White at first. Pop back out on the mound with Hjelle in the pen.
7:00 Rally time
6:55 Pop works a 1-2-3 top of the 8th. Pompey, Heady, White due up for the Cats.
6:48 Cottam grounds out, but UK gets one back in the 7th. Pop back on the mound for UK.
6:43 Clutch double by Mahan scores Hairston from second and UK is now down by one. Eicholtz’s day is done as Matt Foster comes on in relief. Great performance by Eicholtz in the biggest game of Alabama’s season.
6:31 Pop gets a groundout and Bama leaves ’em loaded. At the stretch, it’s 3-1 Bama. Could be a huge momentum shift with Fishin’ In The Dark playing at The Met.
6:30 Bama has the bases loaded with two outs. Vincent at the plate facing Zach Pop.
6:14 White walks but Alabama turns a sweet double play to end the inning. Lewis still out on the mound.
6:08 Lewis allows a single but strikes out the final man of the inning. Cats have four innings to find two runs.
6:03 Logue’s day is done after 5.2 innings. He allowed three runs on six hits. Justin Lewis in from the pen with a runner at first.
5:55 Riley Mahan singles but the Cats can’t scrap anything else in the fifth. Still 3-1 in the sixth with Logue at 86 pitches.
5:46 Another error puts a man on first, but Logue works around it. Logue is through five as UK still trails 3-1. McNeill, Mahan, Cottam due up in the fifth.
5:32 Evan White leads the bottom of the fourth off with a home run over the left field wall. UK finally on the board against Eicholtz.
5:29 Logue allows a bunt single but Holcombe pops out on a bunt to end the top ofthe fourth. Top of the order due up for UK.
5:22 Going to the fourth, still 3-0 Bama. Justin Lewis and Brad Schaenzer jog to the bullpen with Logue over 60 pitches.
Gunnar McNeill hitting a cool .098 in his last 81 at bats.
— Derek Terry (@DTerryRivals) May 24, 2016
5:15 Logue strands a man at third to end the third. Eicholtz retired nine straight to open the April matchup against UK. He’s been tough to this point.
5:10 Bama is all over Logue right now. The Tide already have four hits and have reached on two errors. He’s leaving pitches over the heart of the plate and their barreling it up.
4:59 It could have been worse, but it could have been a lot better. Two RBIs by Webb gave Bama a 3-0 lead. Logue got a strikeout and a grounder to short to end the frame.
4:53 RBI walk gives Bama the lead in the second. A blown call at second and two singles loaded the bases with one away. Still only one out with the bases loaded for Hunter Webb.
4:42 Nothing going for the Cats in the first. Two groundouts and a deep drive by Shelby result in three quick outs for Nick Eicholtz.
4:37 Very smooth inning for Logue in the first. Two groundouts to the mound and a slow roller to first on eight pitches in the first inning. White, Reks, Shelby due up in the bottom half.
4:34 Logue gets a groundout to start the game and we are underway.
4:00 Lineup are up. 30 minutes from first pitch
It’s almost time for the biggest game of the BatCats’ season. UK and Alabama play in the first game of the evening slate, with a probable start time of 5:30 ET. We’ve got all you need to know for the first round of the SEC Tournament.
Zach Logue is on the mound for UK
Coach Gary Henderson announced in the coach’s teleconference that he would go with sophomore Zach Logue on the hill for UK. Logue was the top midweek starter for the Cats for the second straight season. The Ohio-native was 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 16 games (eight starts). Last year, Zack Brown started in the first round against Auburn. It would have worked out for Brown to start again, but his 6.08 ERA and 2-11 record is frightening. Logue has made starts against Louisville, Cincinnati, and Indiana this season. He took a hard loss against Louisville when errors put three unearned runs in his stat line. Logue’s best games came against Murray State and Miami when he struck out seven in each matchup. The start of Logue isn’t terrifying because he has pitched twice against Louisville and made several appearances in SEC games.
Eicholtz named Alabama starter
UK will face Nick Eicholtz for the second time in 2016. The junior threw 7.2 innings in Lexington to save Bama from getting swept in April. The Sunday starter gave his career-best performance against UK, which is probably the reason Coach Mitch Gaspard held him for game one of the SEC Tournament.
UK and Bama face off for the the second time in three years
Two years ago, Alabama and UK played in the eight/nine game in Hoover. UK ran away with a 7-1 win on their way to the semifinals in 2014. This is the third straight year that the Cats have been an eight or nine seed in the SEC Tournament, the other time being against Auburn last year. It makes it difficult to advance past the second round as game one plays into the one seed every year.
This is a play-in game for the NCAA Tournament
Coach Henderson, Aaron Fitt, and several other writers have all concluded that the loser of this game is out of the NCAA Tournament. Neither team has a good RPI, but wins in the SEC Tournament would boost that in a hurry. UK currently sits at 55 in the RPI, and Alabama is at 62. The lowest RPI to receive an at-large bid to a regional was UC Santa Barbara at 56. Both of these teams have 15 SEC wins, which would tie for the most ever by a team that didn’t make the NCAA Tournament. Whoever wins this game will move onto the double elimination portion of the tournament against the top seeded Mississippi State on Wednesday. From the second round until the semifinals, the tournament is double elimination. So there will be multiple chances for UK to boost their RPI if they get past Alabama.
Where to Watch
Every game will be on SEC Network this week. Kentucky will play at 5:30 tonight on the SECN. There will be a live diary 30 minutes before first pitch and tweet updates @TreyHuntsmanKSR.
Jen Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader is reporting Matthew Mitchell has added Lin Dunn, a Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer, to his coaching staff. The 69-year-old Dunn was a coach in the WNBA from 2000 to 2014 with the Seattle Storm and Indiana Fever after several stops in the college game. She won the 2012 WNBA championship with Indiana and was inducted into the Hall in 2014 with over 500 wins to her name.
Dunn joins Kyra Elzy and Niya Butts as the three assistants under Mitchell, as well as Amber Smith, who was given a special role as player development coach and player liaison. The addition of Dunn completes Mitchell’s staff for the upcoming season.
Next order of business for UK Hoops: dig up these old Lin Dunn masks. And maybe add a player or four.
By Trey Huntsman on ©May 23rd, 2016 @ 9:30pm
Earlier today, we talked with national college baseball writer Aaron Fitt of D1 Baseball about Kentucky and the NCAA Tournament. Fitt spent time covering college baseball at Baseball America before moving to D1 Baseball as a national writer and editor. Here are his comments on UK and what the SEC Tournament means for the BatCats.
KSR: Where does UK stand and what scenarios need to fill out for them to make the NCAA Tournament?
Aaron Fitt: The Wildcats are squarely on the bubble entering this week, and probably on the wrong side of it. Right now, their case is remarkably similar to Missouri’s case last year — both teams went 15-15 in the SEC and had RPIs in the mid-50s, and Missouri was left out of the NCAA tournament. I think Kentucky needs to win a couple of games this week and get that RPI into the top 50 to feel good about its chances.
KSR: Is the Alabama/UK matchup a play-in game for the Tournament?
AF: Yes, that game against Alabama is effectively an at-large play-in game — I think the loser is done.
KSR: What other teams across the country are bubble teams to keep an eye on?
AF: Other bubble teams to keep in mind: Cal and Oregon State in the Pac-12; UNC and maybe Wake Forest and Georgia Tech in the ACC; BYU and Gonzaga in the WCC; Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana in the Southland; Michigan, Ohio State, maybe Maryland in the Big Ten; Uconn in the American.
KSR: How will the next couple weeks determine Coach Gary Henderson’s future?
AF: I think Gary Henderson has done a good job making Kentucky competitive every year in a conference where that is very tough to do. The Wildcats have some of the worst weather and facilities in the SEC, and still the program is in better shape than places like Tennessee and Georgia, programs that have a lot of built-in advantages over UK. So I don’t think Gary should have anything to worry about if the Wildcats fail to make a regional… but you never know in this league.
KSR: What regional, if any, do you have UK making?
AF: Should Kentucky get in, obviously a return trip to Louisville is a distinct possibility.
Aaron is a great follow on Twitter (@aaronfitt), especially at this time of the year. He will have national updates for the postseason, while I am currently en route to Hoover for the SEC Tournament. There will be a live diary tomorrow at 5 E.T for the game at Alabama. As always, @TreyHuntsmanKSR is where I’ll have Twitter updates.
The Kentucky softball team fought back from the brink of elimination as if they really did possess nine livesthis weekend but in the end couldn’t find a way to get out of the Lexington regional. In Kentucky’s first two meetings with Utah offense came at a premium as both teams used a one inning breakthrough to win their games in the series. It looked to be that way for today’s game as both teams were scoreless heading into the fifth inning.
Utah opened the game up with a three run top of the fifth and UK immediately responded with a solo home run. But the game of catch-up never allowed Kentucky to get back into the game. Everytime the Cats would close the gap, the Utes found a way to score and keep their lead alive. The softball team showed a ton of grit and fight to force the game 3 playoff but I imagine this game will leave the team wondering what might have been if just a few plays had gone differently.
The softball team finishes with a record of 46-14 and the senior class does not advance to a super regional for the first time in their careers. That’s an impressive feat for a group that laid the foundation to build an SEC contender. Great job ladies.
By Andrew Cassady on ©May 22nd, 2016 @ 4:00pm
The softball Cats got revenge on Utah in the Lexington Regional decider earlier today and now force the rubber match for a trip to the Super Regional. Kentucky looked sharp in game one but this one is the one that can keep the season going. One team wins. One goes home. The trilogy comes to an end. Join us here at KSR, as we continue to update all the happenings of the final regional game. Play (soft)ball!
Final- Utah wins 5-3
End Sixth- Nunley goes down looking as we head into the final inning. 4-3, this is it! Can the Cats find the comeback magic again?
Bottom Sixth- Bases loaded and the blooper locks up the shortstop in the middle of the field and scores a run. Bases still loaded, 4-3!
Bottom Sixth- Sylver Samuel scores on a big hit from Katie Reed. Cats are down 4-2 with two outs but trying to battle back into the game.
Top Sixth- Utah lays down the squeeze bunt and scores. 4-1 Utes as the Cats are entering the danger zone.
5:43- Kentucky answers with a home run blast by Jenny Schaper. 3-1 Utes at the end of the Fifth.
5:37- Base hit for the Utes sends the two baserunners home. Now 3-0 Utah.
5:35- Utah scores :[ It’s now 1-0 Utes, top of the fifth, two outs, runners at second and third.
End Fourth- We’re still locked up. Each game was decided by a home run, are we in store for a walk-off today?
End Third– The first two meetings were decided by one team breaking through in a single inning and it’s looking like that could be the case in game three. We’re still tied at zero.
End Second– 0-0. Kentucky had a couple of hits in the inning but an ill-advised run to third resulted in an unforced out. Both teams are fighting.
4:30– End 1st. Still scoreless. The first two games were defensive battles and the third should be no different. Progress is hard to come by:
4:20– We’re underway. The Cats opt to keep the starting line-up the same with Prince out to pitch. The game is live on ESPN3
4:01- Reminder of the last time Kentucky eliminated Utah in tournament play
4:00 pm- Waiting on the final game to start like:
By Nick Roush on ©May 22nd, 2016 @ 3:36pm
A fantastic four-run third inning elevated Kentucky over Utah, forcing one final game in the Regional Tournament. With a 1-1 head-to-head record in this tournament, the grudge match will determine who moves on to the Super Regional to take on Florida State and who will have to hang up their cleats for the final time this season.
The game began like the Wildcats’ early Saturday loss to the Utes. A two-run homer in the first inning of yesterday’s game was all Utah needed to win. After a sluggish offensive performance, UK gave up two early hits to the Utes. Instead of faltering, the Wildcats recovered, forcing an out at third on their way to ending the inning without any blood.
The Kentucky offense looked much better today, putting runners in a position to score early, and often. It paid off in a wild third inning.
With a runner on second, lead-off hitter Sylver Samuels slapped one into play. A Utah overthrow at first put Kentucky on the board first. Nikki Sagermann had two outs and two strikes on the board when she roped one into left field to drive home Samuels. It was capped off with a two-run BOMB from Abbey Cheek over the left field fence for a 4-0 lead.
— ESPNU (@ESPNU) May 22, 2016
Kelsey Nunley relieved Meagan Prince in the sixth inning to put the game away, ending the game with a swinging strikeout. After watching these teams duke it out twice, their final match will surely be a showdown.
Good morning KSR readers and welcome to the 2016 NCAA Softball Lexington Regional. After a rain delay postponed the first game, UK could reach the finals with back-to-back wins. You can listen to the action on the UK Radio Network, watch it on the Watch ESPN app, or just follow along here for updates in the most ridiculous manner possible.
9:40- UK WINS 3-2 IN THE 8TH INNING
It was a bleak outlook for the Cats after falling down two runs in the first inning for the second time today. With their backs against the wall, they never quit fighting, finally taking advantage of scoring opportunities late in the game to give them the win in extra innings.
Kelsey Nunley’s pitching efforts should be commended. Christian Stokes’ clutch at-bats will give them the chance to fight another day. They’ll have a rematch with Utah tomorrow at 1:00. Until then, it’s time to celebrate.
9:33- The Cats loaded the bases, but grounded out to end the inning. Kelsey Nunley needs to continue to groove for three more outs to live to die another day.
9:29- THE CATS HAVE THE LEAD! Christian Stokes, the tying run in the seventh, hit a deep ball over the right fielder, sending a runner home to take the lead. They could’ve scored another with an errant throw home, but the base-runner was stopped at third.
9:26- Well, this sucks. A soft hit went right back to the pitcher. She caught it and turned two by throwing it to first. The winning run is still on second, but they’ve only got one out to get her home.
9:22- The 8th begins with a liner up the middle from Abbey Cheek. Following her hit, a bunt was dropped. The Illini made an attempt to throw Cheek out at second. She wasn’t there in time, but the ump said her foot left the bag. Runners are now on first and second with zero outs.
9:18- Kelsey Nunley had THREE strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to take this game into extra innings. FREE SOFTBALL!
And a Tweet worth sharing:
— NCAA Softball (@NCAAsoftball) May 22, 2016
9:09- A line drive is hit right at the right-fielder, bringing the top of the seventh to a close. If Samuel would’ve been called safe, the Cats could’ve easily got the winning run. But if ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas.
9:06- FRESHMAN KATIE REED WITH AN RBI SINGLE. THE GAME IS TIED!!!!!!!
9:05- The bunt attempt was popped up, putting Sylver Samuel to the plate. She slapped herself into position to get an infield single, but then a questionable call. Not only did it look like the first baseman pulled her foot, it looked like Samuel beat the throw.
Rachel Lawson lost her mind on the umpire, but the call stands. A runner is on second with two outs.
9:02- Christian Stokes starts the inning with an infield single. The tying run is in play.
8:59- After a quick 1,2,3 inning, the Cats need one run to advance with three seniors up to the plate. LET’S GOOOOOOO!
8:53- After a subpar inning, the Cats are down to their final three outs on offense. They can’t surrender anything in the bottom of the sixth if they hope to put together a comeback.
8:44- Abbey Cheek’s hard-hit grounder up the middle looked like it had the chance to be a double and potentially drive-in the tying run. Instead, the pitcher made a fantastic move to end the inning on a double play. The Cats are starting to run out of opportunities.
8:38- On an unrelated note, Johnny Manzeil got kicked out of a Vegas club last night because of course he did. TMZ Sports got a low-quality video of him in a scuffle after Drake arrived for a surprise performance.
On a related note, the Cats had a great defensive inning, going 1,2,3 quickly.
8:33- Silver Samuel nearly drove in a run, but she was beaten by a half-step for the third out. The Cats leave two stranded, down 2-1 entering the bottom of the fourth.
8:27- THE CATS ARE ON THE BOARD. Jenny Schaper began the inning with a single. A bunt moved the pinch-runner to second, Nunley’s groundout moved her to third before Christian Stokes drove in the Wildcats’ first run of the game with a hit just out of the second baseman’s reach.
8:15- Nikki Sagermann’s hard-hit line drive went right by the pitcher, but that was the only thing doing in the top of the third inning.
8:11- SPILL IN THE PRESS BOX! Dick Gabriel’s coffee took a tumble in the middle of the action. Luckily it didn’t spill on the radio equipment, sliding down the back of the desk instead. It was a close call, narrowly avoiding a disaster. Drew Franklin experienced something when a he spilled a Diet Coke at the Final Four, except in Drew’s case it destroyed his Macbook.
8:03- The coach of the Fighting Illini is Tyra Perry. You’ve probably seen her before.
7:58- UK’s offense showed a few sparks in the top of the second. A controversial call at second played a part in prematurely ending the inning, one that left two Wildcat runners stranded on base.
7:49- Nunley stops the bleeding, ending the inning with a swinging strikeout.
7:46- After loading the bases with a HBP, Prince walks Emily Brooner, giving the Illini their second run of the inning. The first inning is looking a lot like the first inning against Utah. They need only one out to get out of that inning, and they’re going to try to do it with Kelsey Nunley as the pitcher.
7:40- After bunting the runner to third, Nicole Evans hit one over the shortstop’s head to drive in a run for a 1-0 advantage with only one out in the first inning.
7:37- As soon as I finished typing that last entry, she gives up a lead-off double. Come. ON.
7:36- Now that I let that off my chest, I should tell you that Meagan Prince, the pitcher from today’s first game, is back
on the mound in the circle.
7:33- I’m not going to lie, it’s probably pretty dangerous that I’m in control of the LIVE Blog right now. I still haven’t stopped cussing after Cherry Wine ruined my afternoon of gambling in between games. I thought it’d be a good idea to try to win some money during the break, instead today’s bad luck continues. Current Mood:
7:27- We are back. After Illinois’ extra-inning win over Butler, it’s win or go home in the nightcap at John Cropp Stadium. The Cats will be up to the plate first, the visitors on the scoreboard.
Kyle Cody made his last game at Cliff Hagan Stadium a memorable one. Cody pitched the first complete game of his career as UK won 7-2 to take the series against Missouri. The senior pitcher struck out nine and allowed eight hits in a must-win game for the Cats. Cody’s offense backed him up after an error led to Missouri taking a 1-0 lead in the 3rd. The Cats used 13 hits to boost Cody to his sixth win of the season. Kentucky will now travel to Hoover as either the eight or nine seed and a 32-24 (15-15) record. Before the coverage starts for next week, here are today’s game notes.
Cody shines in final home start
This was one of the finer starts Cody had in his UK career. Cody threw over 130 pitches in his nine inning complete game. But he was brilliant on almost every one of those pitches. Cody struck out nine, including the final out of the game. His command was remarkable as he only walked one batter. Cody never got in a jam that he couldn’t wiggle out of against the Tigers, as Missouri left ten on base against Cody. This was a special moment for a guy who came back for his senior year. Returning meant turning down six figures as a second round pick of the Twins, but it has panned out for him in his last few starts.
— Mark Cornelison (@markcornelison) May 21, 2016
Cats show a better look at the plate
Granted they weren’t going up against the likes of Tanner Houck or Reggie McClain, UK still had a good day at the plate. The Cats used four infield singles and an RBI double by Riley Mahan to take a 3-1 lead in the 3rd. Evan White got his first of three RBIs with a sac fly in the fourth and drove in another run on a groundout in the sixth. White was 3/4 with three RBIs and a double. Connor Heady, Dorian Hairston, JaVon Shelby, and Zach Arnold all drove in runs alongside White. It was great to see Heady pick up a pair of hits, including a double in the win.
Heading to Hoover
Today’s win was huge for UK heading into the postseason. The BatCats have an RPI of 55, which would be the second lowest ranking to ever make the tournament. History is on the side of UK, as only one team with 15 SEC wins has ever missed the NCAA Tournament (Missouri last year). A win over Alabama in the first game of the SEC would almost certainly give UK an at-large bid. Yours truly will make the trip down on Monday to cover the tournament for the second straight season. We will have more previews and breakdowns for the tournament once all the seeding is final.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 20th, 2016 @ 5:30pm
Mother Nature apparently didn’t want UK to finish their softball game today. Rain halted today’s game in the NCAA Regional between UK and Butler, which will resume tomorrow at 11 a.m. ET. The game will pick up where it left off, with UK up 2-0 at the top of the 2nd inning.
Here’s the updated schedule:
Saturday, May 21
Game 2: Kentucky 2, Butler 0 (Top 2) – 11 a.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 3: Illinois vs. Winner Game 2 – 1 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 4: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2 [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 5: Loser Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4 [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Sunday, May 22
Game 6: Winner Game 3* vs. Winner Game 5 – 1pm ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Game 7 (if necessary) – Same teams – 3:30 p.m. ET [ESPN3, WatchESPN app, ESPNU Bases Loaded]
Nick Roush will be on hand for KSR to cover all the happenings.
Kentucky’s Dustin Beggs fired eight shutout innings to help defeat Missouri 2-1 in his final start at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK was faced with a must-win game for their tournament hopes, and Beggs pushed them to their 31st win on the season. Reggie McClain was excellent for MU, pitching eight innings and allowing only two runs. Beggs was just a little bit better on Friday. The senior struck out six and picked off two runners in his ninth win of the season.
UK finally got some timely hitting
A big issue for UK in SEC play has been timely hitting. They get in position to win games, but often fail to capitalize. With two outs in the sixth, the BatCats finally found some clutch hitting. Zach Reks singled up the middle and JaVon Shelby legged out an infield single to put two on for Riley Mahan. With two strikes, Mahan delivered an RBI single to right field to give UK their first lead of the series. Shelby would take home on a delayed steal with two outs in the sixth to add another run.
Reggie McClain was fantastic
The two runs were the only blip on McClain’s stat line today. McClain struck out the side in the fifth and finished with eight strikeouts in eight innings. Like Beggs, McClain is a JUCO transfer in his second season in the SEC. The three-time SEC Pitcher of the Week retired the first eight batters he faced until Kole Cottam singled with two outs in the third.
Reks honored during game
News broke during the game that Zach Reks was named a semifinalist for the Gregg Olson Award given to the Breakout Player of the Year. After taking two years off from baseball, Reks transferred to UK from the Air Force Academy. Reks has started 40 games and played in 51, hitting .342 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs.
Beggs wraps up a great career at the Cliff
With another incredible performance on the mound, Beggs pitched his last game at home. Beggs was 6-1 at home this season with an ERA well below three. This was a must-win game for the Cats, and Beggs delivered once again. Some of the biggest wins over the last two seasons have been courtesy of brilliant pitching efforts by Beggs. We will have more on Beggs this weekend after senior day.
Kentucky and Missouri wrap up their series tomorrow at 1 E.T. Following the game, both teams will make the trip to Hoover for the SEC Tournament. As of now, Kentucky will be the eight or nine seed playing Alabama on Tuesday. For the BatCats to get an at-large, they need to win tomorrow and most likely beat Alabama in the first round of the SEC.
By Kelsey Mattingly on ©May 20th, 2016 @ 11:00am
RISE AND SHINE IT’S SOFTBALL TIME! Today is the day that our very own Kentucky Softball team plays their first NCAA Tournament game of the postseason, a regional matchup versus Butler. With a home field advantage, the Wildcats will be going up against the Bulldogs at beautiful John Cropp Stadium while also hosting Utah and Illinois. KSR is here to get you ready with all the info you need to prepare for this weekend’s lineups. (*don’t forget to note the time changes!)
The Cats and Dogs go head to head
Going into their regional game versus Butler at 1:30 p.m. the Wildcats are 43-12 including the best start in school history. Their hard work during the season paid off and landed them a #9 national seed in the NCAA Tournament and the opportunity to host a round of regional match-ups. Going into the game the Cats will have three NFCA All-Region players in Kelsey Nunley, Abbey Cheek and Meagan Prince, who have all carried the team in one way or another this season.
At the helm is 2016 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year, Rachel Lawson, as she takes her team to a seventh straight NCAA appearance. Kentucky is 5-0 all-time against the Bulldogs and haven’t played them since 2014 at John Cropp. This year the Bulldogs earned the Big East automatic bid in the title game, even with their 28-22 season record. In the last face-off between the Cats and Dogs, Kelsey Nunley and Meagan Prince teamed up to pitch the win, something that would be great to see again this weekend.
The Butler Bulldogs have had an incredible run to the NCAA Tournament after winning their first ever Big East championship. After trailing 6-0 going into the fifth inning of said game with zero hits, they proceeded to flip the odds in their favor and win over No. 1 seeded DePaul. With back-to-back comebacks leading them to their NCAA appearance versus No. 9 overall seed Kentucky, many are calling them underdogs. But with big players like Kristin Gutierrez and Sarah Dixon, it would be wise to not underestimate that they could come back once again and beat the odds.
Here’s a look at the updated bracket with the time changes for Friday’s games pic.twitter.com/K3rEF0pbGe
— UK Softball (@UKsoftball) May 19, 2016
Players to Watch in the Regional
We are very proud to announce that Kelsey Nunley, Abbey Cheek and Meagan Prince have earned NFCA All-Region honors! pic.twitter.com/wK2TxlA0ad
— UK Softball (@UKsoftball) May 19, 2016
Kelsey Nunley (Kentucky): This Kentucky pitcher was named a National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association All-Southeast Region player. Nunley posted a 1.28 earned run average with 20 wins, 12 complete games and seven shutouts this season in addition to being third in wins (20), eighth in strikeouts (188), second in shutouts (7), eighth in games started (30), fifth in appearances (42) and second in opposing batting average (.179).
Meagan Prince (Kentucky): Kentucky’s other half of the pitching dynamic duo was also named a National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association All-Southeast Region player. With a career-best season in 2016, Prince threw 144.0 innings, earning her a 19-5 record in 29 games. She also became the first SEC pitcher to throw three no-hitters in the same season since Alabama’s Kelsi Dunne in 2009. Prince started the season 14-0 before her first loss (a program record for the most consecutive wins to start a season).
Sarah Dixon (Butler): Dixon was named the Most Outstanding Player in Butler’s first-ever Big East Tournament championship. She was 4-for-5 with five RBIs, four walks, three runs, a home run, a triple and a double in the two games of the tournament. It was Dixon who broke the tie that had the Bulldogs at a standstill and led them to victory with a home run into the right-field bleachers. Her tenacity could be huge for her team at John Cropp Stadium.
Katie Donovan (Utah): This Utah Ute struck out 132 batters this season, going 18-10 and was named a first-team All Pac-12 pitcher. Against their regional round against Illinois today, Donovan could be a key ingredient in shutting down their opponent and gaining the confidence to move on at a vantage point.
Nicole Evans (Illinois): Illinois’ Nicole Evans leads her team with 12 home runs and 50 RBI and a .328 average which is the second best on her team. If Utah’s Donovan is having an off day, that kind of batting could result in a spark for Illinois that leads them to victory.
TICKETS! GET YOUR TICKETS!!
Haven’t purchased your tickets for this afternoon’s games? Better get a move on and get them before it’s too late! To make it easy for you, we’ve included the link here: BUY ME. Now go support our girls!
UK softball has their 3rd highest RPI heading into the NCAA Tournament in school history (#16) (#10 in 2013 and #15 in 2014)
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) May 17, 2016
UK softball receives their highest national seed in the NCAA Tournament in school history (#9) Previous high was #12 in 2013
— Corey Price (@coreyp08) May 16, 2016
Get one last chance to play in John Cropp Stadium 😍💙
— Nikki Sagermann (@swaggermann77) May 16, 2016
Love that @ButlerSoftball is in the NCAA softball tourney vs Kentucky..another chance for State of Indiana dominance!!
— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) May 17, 2016
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) May 17, 2016
— Kentucky WBB (@KentuckyWBB) May 19, 2016
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) May 19, 2016
— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) May 19, 2016
And with that…let’s play some softball!