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Seven Things You Need to Know About the New Baseball Stadium

Seven Things You Need to Know About the New Baseball Stadium


1. Seating

There will be 2,500 permanent chair back seats.  Regular-season capacity will be about 4,000 with additional room for fans in grassy areas.  Capacity can increase to 7,000 with temporary seating for postseason play.

2. Luxury Accommodations

For fans there will be luxury suites and a club area for over 200 people.  For the common folk, there will be a large plaza near the entrance way and a paved concourse encapsulating the stadium, allowing the antsy fans to “take a lap.”

For the players and coaches, they’ll have a team video room, players lounge with a new locker room and coaches’ offices.  The bullpen and batting cage areas will also be expanded.

3. Fake Grass

The field will be artificial turf, giving a gut-shot to baseball purists, but in this part of the country, keeping a natural turf field in great shape throughout the rough weather of early spring can be extremely difficult.

4.  Ground-Breaking

Construction will begin in early to mid-February.  It will take approximately 18 months to finish, finished in time for the start of the 2019 season.

5.  Funding

I don’t know where they’re getting every dollar for the $49 million project, but $30 million is coming from their JMI Sports signing bonus.  Thirty. Million. Dollar. Signing. Bonus.  I need to talk to the guy who made that happen.

6.  Sorry Purple Lot

The new stadium will take away your parking spots, but do not worry too much about your beloved gravel lot: a new surface lot or parking garage is on the table.

7.  What will happen to The Cliff?

Cliff Hagan Stadium will be transformed into a new tennis facility in the Spring of 2020.  Tennis is the only sport without major renovations in the last decade.  By the time it’s all complete, Barnhart will have created an “athletic village” on South Campus.

Joe Craft Center to be updated

Joe Craft Center to be updated


The University of Kentucky is actively revamping its major sports facilities and the basketball team’s Joe Craft Center may soon be added to the list.

In a press conference today to discuss the new $49 million baseball stadium and other projects, Mitch Barnhart said the athletic department is looking into an update of the Craft Center, where Coach Cal’s team trains and practices behind Memorial Coliseum.

“The Joe Craft Center across campus was built seven or eight years ago. We’ve been in that awhile and we need to update that,” said Barnhart. “We need to figure out what we need to do to update that as it relates to what we’ve got going on in terms of wellness and nutrition and training, specifically to young people that are on that side of campus.”

Women’s basketball, volleyball, rifle and other programs also share the Craft Center.

Photo by UK Athletics

Some more notes from Hoops media day

Photo by UK Athletics

Photo by UK Athletics

On Friday, Maggie brought you a quick recap of what went down at Hoops media day. Today, I’m going to give you a little more about what we learned about this year’s team. It was a fun day and I’m excited to get back in Memorial on Nov. 3.

Matthew Mitchell hasn’t had to coach effort this year

It’s no secret that Coach Mitchell expects greatness out his players and pushes them hard, but something new about this season is that he hasn’t had to coach effort, it just comes to this group. Each day they have the drive to get better as a person and as player.

“You can really go in and coach basketball, and you can really go in and talk to them about what they need to do to get better as a player,” Mitchell said. “But even when they are making mistakes, there’s an attitude of just resilience and bounce back, accept the coaching, move forward.”

This is where the team’s mantra of ONE comes into action. Mitchell has instilled the theme of one for this season, that is that they are all one team, one until moving forward to reach their goals. Mitchell believes they understand that while they’re a talented group, they’re not the most talented group in the county and so they can’t have lapses of judgment or responsibility.

Mackenzie Cann is going to be big addition this year

Cann arrived on campus last season after a transfer from the University of Cincinnati. Since Cann started playing basketball in the 6th grade, she has consistently been a shooting guard. However, because she is 5’11, this year she may transition between a shooting guard, joining Maci Morris and Makayla Epps in the back court, and a forward in the front court with Evelyn Akhator and Alyssa Rice.

“Makenzie is a very versatile player. The thing that I like most about her is that she is willing to do whatever it takes. So she will just say, “I’ll do whatever you need me to do,” and that is very, very valuable on a team. And so her size allows her to do different things,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell appreciates the core six that stuck around

It’s no secret the month following the end of last season was a hot mess. After Mitchell lost half his roster and all of his coaching staff, only six players remained. And for that, Mitchell is grateful.

“I can tell you, I love those kids. A lot of tough times. A lot of hard days that you are trying to figure out exactly what’s going on and they just were rock solid throughout that, and yeah, so I love them. I love those kids and I love the six that came through. Love this team. They are remarkable young women,” Mitchell said.

The majority, if not all, of this year’s starting line up will come from the core six players. While Mitchell anticipates the bench to go 8-9 deep, he will definitely be relying on those six a tremendous amount this season.

But the walk-on’s have been a great asset

Following a tryout on Sept. 30, Mitchell added two new walk-ons, Paige Poffenberger and Rachel Potter.

“And so it’s been amazing to watch these kids come in here and how hard they work, and what gives them all a chance to really help us and impact us in a positive way is how hard they work and then God’s given them enough that they can come in and do some things,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell said that the addition of the walk-ons have really enhanced the team’s practice because he has to teach them, not things like fundamentals but just enough to get them caught up to speed in SEC basketball.


Women’s Basketball Media Day: A Quick Recap



Media day for UK’s women’s basketball team took place earlier today at the Joe Craft Center. We’ll have plenty more as we get you ready for the season, but for now here’s a quick recap.

A lot of questions at the opening press conference with Coach Mitchell revolved around the transition from last year to this season. After losing several players and two commits, the program was in full-on crisis mode.

“There were a lot of tough times and a lot of tough days,” said Coach Mitchell. “Those returning six were rock solid through all of that. I love those six kids, and I love this whole team.”

Out of those returning six, three are expected to be starters: Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator and Maci Morris. Epps is the team’s key veteran, as she averaged 17.1 points and 4.8 rebounds last season and was recently named to the Preseason Media All-SEC team.

When asked how well the team is moving on from the struggles of last season, Epps’ response was simple: “We’re pretty past it.” She went on to describe the team’s current attitude, and mentioned how like-minded this team is.

“The people who are with us now have been working really hard. All 12 of us are on the same page. We want to work hard for ourselves, for Coach Mitchell and the rest of the coaching staff, and then of course for the fans who stuck with us.”

Senior Makayla Epps answers questions during Media Day, via

Senior Makayla Epps answers questions during Media Day, via

Besides adding six new players to the roster, the team also gained three new assistant coaches: Kyra Elzy, Niya Butts and Lin Dunn.

“We’ve got to calm her down,” joked Mitchell about Dunn. “She’s fired up and ready for the season.”

The team’s motto for the season, “ONE”, was another main element in today’s press conference. But what does it mean?

“We have to do it together. We have a talented group, but we probably don’t have the most talented group in the country,” said Mitchell. It really has to be one unit marching forward every day.

Epps felt the same way.

“We’re just one family, one team. Everything we do and everything we’re about happens right here on this court.”

As one of just three seniors on the team (Evelyn Akhator and Jessica Hardin are the others), Epps understands the importance of this season.

“It’s my last year playing in the blue and white, and it makes me emotional. Every game I’m going to give all I have, for myself and my team. I’d like to get drafted at the end of this season, but at the end of the day, it’s about the team and not about me.

Currently, the Cats are ranked third in the SEC. While the women are determined to change the outside perception of the program after their tumultuous spring and summer, Mitchell isn’t concerned.

“I promise I’m not sitting around thinking about what others are saying about us. I’ve never found a lot of value in that. We know who we are, and we know the character of these kids. No one is calm – we’re fired up.”

So fired up, in fact, Mitchell has barely had time to process Kelly Clarkson’s recent tweet.

“That was a big moment for me. She’s the American Idol. I wish I had more time to bask in that glow, but we’ve been practicing.”

Hopefully all that practice pays off. The cats’ first game will be at Memorial Coliseum on November 3 vs. Union at 7:00.

Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR

UK is getting a new baseball stadium

The Kentucky baseball team is getting a brand new stadium.

UK announced on Friday that it has received approval to begin construction on a $49 million stadium on campus. Construction is set to begin in February and will be completed by fall of 2018.

The new stadium will be located off Alumni Drive between the football training facility and the soccer complex.

A press conference will be held on Monday to announce further details. For now, here’s a video from to explain a little more:

Makayla Epps is rocking some new UK Nikes


UK Athletics

UK Athletics

This afternoon at the SEC Tipoff 17, @SEC tweeted a picture of Kentucky Hoops’ guard Makayla Epps’ shoes. Usually, I’m not a huge fan of school specific shoes, as I usually feel like they try too hard to incorporate the school all over the shoe. However, it looks like these are simple. U on the left, K on the right.

Epps is going to be the best and most important player on Matthew Mitchell’s short-handed squad this season, so I say let her wear whatever she wants on the court. The pride of Lebanon, Ky averaged 17.1 points 4.8 rebounds, and 4.5 assists in her junior season and will look to improve upon those stats in her final year wearing the blue and white. Basketball season is upon us folks. Get pumped.


Kelly Clarkson is a fan of Matthew Mitchell, too


I love Matthew Mitchell. Matthew Mitchell loves Kelly Clarkson. My best friend and I sing Kelly Clarkson’s Since U Been Gone all the time. The only thing better? Kelly Clarkson being a fan of Matthew Mitchell.

Mitchell’s dance moves are always a highlight of Big Blue Madness and last night he busted a move to Justin Timberlake’s, Can’t Stop the Feeling.

Well, apparently Kelly Clarkson, former American Idol winner, liked it too and tweeted about it.

So now women’s basketball media relations guru, Evan Crane has the impossible task of getting both Kelly Clarkson and Justin Timberlake to Memorial this year. Good luck, friend. I’ll be waiting.

UK Hoops previews: A look at the returners

UK Hoops previews: A look at the returners

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

For two weeks last April, news of resignations, transfers and decommitments swirled around Memorial Coliseum and the Joe Craft Center like nothing else.

Left in all the mess were six returners anchored by senior guard Makayla Epps and head coach Matthew Mitchell.

Since then, the Cats have doubled their roster and added three new coaches. The main core of this squad, however, will be their returners.

Game action for Kentucky starts in less than a month when they take the floor for the first time on Nov. 3rd at 7:30 p.m. against Union University in Memorial Coliseum, but last night we got a first look at the new and improved Wildcats at Big Blue Madness. Continuing with the theme, let’s take a look at this year’s UK Hoops returners.

Makayla Epps


UK Athletics

Position: Guard

Year: Senior

Height: 5’10

Hometown: Lebanon, Kentucky

It’s easy to make the argument that Epps has far surpassed her father Anthony’s legacy at Kentucky. A hometown ambassador, Epps has been a rock for Kentucky the last three years. Averaging 17.1 points and 35 minutes per game last season, it would be remiss to not to say that, alongside the graduated Janee Thompson, Epps led the Cats last year.

Posing a threat both outside and in, Epps can virtually do it all. She’s not afraid to pull up behind the line where she shot 28% last year and let it go but at the same time can push through and take it to the hole where she averaged a 47% field-goal average.

One of two seniors, Epps is going to be this team’s leader. Even as a sophomore and junior, Epps was incredibly well spoken and in many instances, was the voice of the team.

Evelyn Akhator


UK Athletics

Position: Forward

Year: Senior

Height: 6’3

Hometown: Largos, Nigeria

Evelyn Akhator is the Bam of this team. She’s insanely strong but has incredibly mobility under the basket. Because of her strength, she can push through anyone to get to the bucket to make the basket or grab the rebound.

A transfer from Chipola Junior College last year, Akhator performed exceedingly well on the big stage for her first season. She avergaed 9.3 rebounds and 11.5 points per game for a 51% field-goal percentage. Now that Akhator is a veteran in the SEC and Division 1 ball, big things are expected.

Alyssa Rice


UK Athletics

Position: Center

Year: Junior

Height: 5’3

Hometown: Reynoldsburg, Ohio

Rice started off last season with ankle injury which left her sidelined until the Louisville game. But even after that, Rice was left in the shadow of Akhator and Alexis Jennings, who transferred after last season to South Carolina.

This season, it’s likely that Rice will start along with Akhator in the front court, both are 6’3 which will give the Cats some height against tall backcourts, many of which Kentucky faced last season. Rice was efficient at the goal last year with a 44% field-goal percentage. With just two starts under her belt last year, it will be fun to watch what she does with increased playing time this year.

Mackenzie Cann


UK Athletics

Positon: Guard

Year: Junior

Height: 6’1

Hometown: Lawrenceburg, Kentucky

Not much is known about Cann. After sitting out last season because of her transfer from the University of Cincinnati, Cann is now eligible to play.

What we do know, is that she can shoot. Cann set records for her high school with most assists (645) and second in shooting (2,207 points). And many times saved the UC Bearcats with her three-point shooting.

Cann will also need some desperately needed height to the back court with Maci Morris, Makayla Epps and Taylor Murray, where the Cats struggled some against taller front courts last season.

Maci Morris


UK Athletics

Position: Guard

Year: Sophomore

Height: 6’0

Hometown: Pineville, Kentucky

Bell County’s very own Morris lit it up last year. Heralded as a shooter coming out of high school, Morris lived up to the expectations last year. The true freshman shot 40% from the field and 39% from the behind the line.

Many times last year Morris’ ability to rip the three brought the Cats to life. Especially in last year’s second round game against Oklahoma, Morris pulled the Cats through with four three’s of her own.

The only thing that held Morris back last year was her defense. At one point last season, Mitchell equated Morris’ defensive skills to his grandma so hopefully the post-season has been good to her in that area.

Taylor Murray


UK Athletics

Position: Guard

Year: Sophomore

Height: 5’6

Hometown: Odenton, Maryland

Likened to Eric Bledsoe, Murray is a silent killer. Coming off the bench last year, Murray always added that extra burst of energy to the Cats when they needed it. Never afraid to drop her head and drive to the basket despite the defense being a head taller than her at some points.

Murray is quick and feisty and is not afraid to go in. Murray shot 44% from the field and grabbed 73 steals through the course of the season.

Follow me at @haleysimpKSR, Savannah Patton at @savannahpattKSR and Maggie Davis at @MaggieDavisKSR on Twitter for updates on women’s basketball throughout the season.

You have to see Matthew Mitchell’s Big Blue Madness Intro

You have to see Matthew Mitchell’s Big Blue Madness Intro


The Kentucky women’s basketball coach pulled double-duty this year.  He began by dancing all through the bowels of Rupp Arena before teaching us how to JuJu at midcourt.


Matthew Mitchell Adds Two Players to the Final Roster


Matthew Mitchell’s depleted women’s basketball roster has finally been filled for the 2016-17 season.  Today he announced the addition of Paige Poffenberger from Morgantown, W.Va., and LaShae Halsel from Bowling Green, Ky.  The two walk-ons put 12 players on the UK Hoops roster with 11 eligible to play this fall.

Mitchell said in a press release: “Every year we look to improve our team by adding quality young women that are already on campus and this year we were able to do that with the additions of Paige and LaShae,” Mitchell said. “They’ve been working out with the team for a few weeks and our staff has been impressed with how they have approached every day and been coachable.”

A product of Warren Central High School, Halsel is two years removed from her senior season where she averaged 9.1 points and 11 rebounds per game.  Poffenberger is a freshman who had an illustrious career in the state of West Virginia, helping lead her school to three straight Class AAA championships.

Mitchell also announced Bellarmine transfer and former walk-on Jessica Hardin has been awarded a scholarship.

Via @KentuckyVB

UK Volleyball Sweeps Florida


Via @KentuckyVB

Via @KentuckyVB

In tonight’s volleyball matchup between the unranked Wildcats and the #5 Florida Gators, UK came out on top. For the first time since 1990, Florida’s team was swept as the ‘Cats scored a 3-0 victory.

The Wildcats made the trip to Gainesville and immediately took over Lemerand Athletic Center, winning the first set 25-17. Freshman Leah Edmond started the first set with a kill and ended the set with five, while sophomore Brooke Morgan recorded four blocks. Other stat leaders included eight assists for setter Olivia Dailey and five digs for sophomore Ashley Dusek.

The second set was eerily similar. Edmond began the set with a kill, and continued to dominate Florida’s defense. Kaz Brown, the 6’4 middle blocker, recorded six kills, four blocks and just one error. The Wildcats claimed this set 25-18.

The Gators’s urgency in the third set allowed them to take a quick lead which lasted until a Wildcat 5-1 run, tying the score at 14. After a tough third set, UK was able to score a 25-23 victory.

Tonight’s win put the Cats at 3-0 in SEC play. Their next game will be at 1:30 on Sunday, Oct. 2 against South Carolina in Columbia.

(@UKMensSoccer Twitter)

UK Men’s Soccer knocks off #21 New Mexico


(@UKMensSoccer Twitter)

(@UKMensSoccer Twitter)

After a thriller of a matchup last season, UK and New Mexico played in another tight match this season, with the Wildcats coming out on top, 1-0. Last year, it took over 108 minutes for the only goal of the game to be scored, when Stefan Stojkovic gave the Cats the 2OT victory. This season, while the score was the same, UK found the back of the net much earlier.

Noah Hutchins scored his third goal of the season just over five minutes into the game on the assist from Charlie Reymann.

This win takes UK’s record to 5-2-1 on the year, and 1-1-0 in Conference USA. Tonight was definitely a big win going forward in conference play for the Wildcats. Hopefully, they can keep this momentum going in their games against Lipscomb and Charlotte later this week.

Take a minute and watch the highlights and post-game interview with sophomore goalkeeper Stuart Ford courtesy of KYWildcatsTV:



Makayla Epps Named Preseason All-America

UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Makayla Epps raked in yet another award when Athlon Sports named the senior guard Preseason All-America Second Team today.

Epps is one of few players remaining from last season’s squad whom she carried to the Sweet 16 where their season ended against Washington.

Last year Epps averaged a team best 17.1 points per game along with a 47% from the field, 4.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game. Epps also scored more 20+ points in 12 games and in double-digits 29 times.

This is just one of many awards that Epps has managed to earn over her last three years at UK. After a stellar junior season the guard was named All-America First Team by and also received an All-America Honorable mention by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and The Associated Press.

Not only those, but Epps was named a first-team All-SEC performer by coaches around the league and the AP. During the season, she was also listed on three different watch lists: the Dawn Staley Award Mid-Season, Naismith Trophy Midseason 30 and the Wade Trophy.

Coming off an incredible junior year, Epps should have a killer final year with the Cats.

UK Hoops lands commitment from top in-state prospect

UK Hoops lands commitment from top in-state prospect


Matthew Mitchell picked up a big commitment from one of the best players in the state of Kentucky today in the form of Blair Green, a 2018 prospect out of Harlan County High School.

Green is considered a three-star wing by ESPN Recruiting, ranked fifth at her position. She was also looking at Tennessee, UCLA, Louisville, Vanderbilt and Dayton.

Green visited Kentucky in early August and looked really, really happy in her photos:

Let’s go UK Hoops! Big get here.

Karl-Anthony Towns is your Home Run Derby Champ

Getty Images

If you thought that maybe Karl-Anthony Towns was a one-sport athlete, you were 100% wrong. KAT was far and away the most impressive  in the Coach Cal Celebrity Softball Classic Home Run Derby. Towns won the home run derby with a walk-off in sudden death followed by an epic bat flip.

Check out this video brought to us from CN2’s KSTV:



As if the BBN could love Karl any more than it already does, he just keeps surprising everyone. Doesn’t hurt that he eats, drinks and breathes Kentucky Wildcats in everything that he does, but still, the guy is like the perfect former Cat.

And it wasn’t just the home derby, Towns carried those skills to the actual game as well: