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© Kirby Lee | USTSI

Sports Illustrated profiles Kentucky’s Edrick Floreal

© Kirby Lee | USTSI

The NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships are now underway in Eugene, Oregon, and while everyone’s focus will be on Sydney McLaughlin, Sports Illustrated is shining a light on Edrick Floreal, the man behind the scenes. Chris Chavez just published this in-depth profile of Kentucky’s track coach, whose perfectionist approach turned UK from one of the worst programs in the SEC to one of the best in the country.

A lot of the profile describes Floreal’s background, but an equal part deals with how he’s coaching McLaughlin, one of the most talented runners in the country. Like a certain basketball coach, Floreal has no problem with Sydney being a one-and-done if she chooses. This weekend’s event could be her last in a Kentucky uniform and Floreal is fine with that, not one to hold her back from a lucrative professional career.

“Sydney wants to set the world on fire,” Floreal adds. “I tell her that she’s Beyonce and I’m the manager. My job is to make sure the drummer drums correctly. I make sure the beat stops when she pauses. I make sure the dancers zig when she zigs and zag when she zags. I help make sure that the lights turn on correctly—not too bright but make sure it doesn’t reflect too bad. I’m just the guy making sure that everything is being orchestrated correctly. She’s the star and puts on the show.”

You can watch Sydney in the semifinals of the 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relay tonight on ESPN2 starting around 9 p.m. ET. Until then, take some time to read the profile of Floreal at Sports Illustrated.

[Sports Illustrated]


via UKAthletics

Curious about a sport other than basketball? Keep reading:

While the Kentucky football and basketball seasons may be on hiatus, the UK athletics wheel never stops spinning. There’s plenty of Kentucky sports action happening not only across Lexington, but even around the world. Here’s a quick recap of what you may have missed this weekend, plus some exciting things still to come for a handful of other sports.

Volleyball

Five wildcats were selected to join various U.S. Collegiate National Teams: Madison Lilley, Leah Edmond, Gabby Curry, Brooke Morgan and Avery Skinner will all represent the United States on the national and international level this summer.

Lilley, the team’s setter, is currently in China.

Outside hitters Edmond and Skinner will train in Venice, Italy and play games in Croatia in early June.

Left-side hitter Curry and middle blocker Morgan will head to the University of Michigan in late June.

Not a bad way to spend your summer, right?!

Track and Field

Over the weekend, 22 Wildcats qualified to advance out of the NCAA East Prelims. Kentucky took 40 athletes to the prelims, meaning 55 percent of their athletes qualified for the next level of competition. Now, these 22 Cats will head to Eugene, Oregon where the NCAA Outdoor Championships finals will be held June 6-9.

This is the second consecutive year Kentucky has qualified 22 athletes to the championship final, proving this program is a serious contender. Sydney McLaughlin may be the most famous athlete on the team, but several others have also garnered national attention. After earning bronze at the SEC Championships, Dwight St. Hillarie won his individual event at prelims, lowered his own school-record and secured the No. 19 spot on the collegiate all-time list, running a 44.55 in the 400m dash.

Tennis

via UKAthletics

Although the remaining singles and doubles players have now all been eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, the UK tennis program is still bringing in awards. Recent graduate Emily Fanning just earned the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Cissie Leary Award for Sportsmanship for the Ohio Valley region; she is the fourth player in program history to take home this award.

Baseball

The BatCats are still waiting to see if they will receive an at-large bid for the NCAA Tournament, and since the Cats did not win their conference tournament, they’re vying to be one of the 33 teams to receive an at-large bid. They’re set to find out their fate at noon ET tomorrow, and the selection will be covered on ESPNU.

Be sure to catch up on all of your Trey Huntsman’s baseball coverage before then, starting with his comparison of UK baseball to other bubble teams.

Basketball

But, for those of you just looking for a basketball update…


@MaggieDavisKSR


Kentucky’s Season Ends in the Super Region

@UKsoftball

It was a good season for the Rachel Lawson and the Cats in 2018 as they finished with a record of 41-20 playing against the second toughest schedule in the nation. Working their way to a 16 seed in the NCAA tournament in the process. But, unfortunately, that good season would come to an end tonight as they ran into the buzzsaw that was Miranda Elish once again.

Elish carried her dominant performance from last night into tonight, as she finished the night with seven strikeouts, one earned run, and four hits in five innings of work. Even though Elish was once again dominant, what killed the Cats was a seven-run 2nd inning, and from there it seemed over.

In the 2nd inning, the Ducks had two home runs, a solo shot from Rhodes and a grand slam from Sanders. Throw in two RBI singles, and you get a disaster inning. The Ducks would score three more in the third to give them a comfortable ten run lead.

In the top half of the next inning, senior Brooklin Hinz would hit a home run to try to will the Wildcats back into the game, but it just wasn’t enough as that would be Kentucky’s only run of the night.

The Ducks would go on to tack on one more in the fourth to beat the Cats 11-1 in five innings and advance to the college world series.

Kentucky just didn’t have it tonight, and it was just the wrong night to have a bad night, but that shouldn’t take away from a spectacular year from the Kentucky softball team. Kentucky will lose three seniors this year; Rachael Metzger, Brooklin Hinz, and Erin Rethlake, who all had great careers and moments at the University of Kentucky. Most notably they were all apart of the only Softball team in school history to go to the world series. They will be Wildcats forever. Salute to those three seniors on great careers at UK, and they will be missed next year.

Next year Kentucky will return a lot, including seven starters. Notably, they will return home run leader Abbey Cheek, batting Average leader Bailey Vick, Standout shortstop Katie Reed, four-hole hitter Alex Martens and two great arms in Grace Baalman and Autumn Humes. Not to mention two freshmen who had great seasons in Mallory Peyton and Lauren Johnson.

While things are gloom right now, there is a lot of optimism that Kentucky will be back and better next year. Salute to you ladies on a great season.

 


Kentucky Softball Playing for WCWS Berth on ESPN

Tune into ESPN now to watch your Kentucky Softball team face off against Oregon in Jane Sanders Stadium in Eugene for a spot in the College Softball World Series.

In an elimination game a quick start will be a major key for the Cats after a rough outing in Game 2.

Let’s go Cats!

@EMitchKSR


@UKsoftball

What To Watch For in Tonight’s Winner Take All Softball Game

@UKsoftball

The magnitude of tonight’s game is enormous. With a chance to go to the world series and a season both on the line tonight, there are many components to tonight’s game that will determine the outcome. Whether it’s Oregon’s pitching or Kentucky’s bats prevailing, these will be the keys to tonight’s crucial game three.

1. Kleist or Elish

Tonight Mike White will have a tough decision to face heading into game three, does he start the PAC-12 Pitcher of the Year or does he ride with what worked last night in Miranda Elish. Like I mentioned last night, Kleist’s approach seems to benefit Kentucky more, but after the year she’s had I wouldn’t be surprised if Oregon went with her in game three. I believe the signs are pointing to her starting as well, last night Mike White sent her to the bullpen that way she could see herself throw good pitches ahead of another performance. IF Mike White rolls with Kleist tonight it will be interesting to see if the Cats can elevate the ball more tonight and get some runs on the board, or if they go with Elish again, what type of adjustments will Kentucky make to get on base.

2. How will Kentucky’s Bats Respond?

The Cats’ bats were cooled off last night after looking unstoppable in their first four postseason games, even Abbey Cheek was held at bay. Against a team like Oregon, they have to hit, relying on their pitching staff and defense won’t get it done. Not saying Rethlake can shut this Oregon team down because I believe she is fully capable, but in the first two games of this Super Regional the Ducks have seen all three UK pitchers twice, so they will have a feel of what each pitcher is bringing to the table. They will have to score, and if the top of the lineup can set the tone early for Kentucky, I think the Cats should fair well tonight.

3. How Loose will Kentucky Play?

In game one Kentucky came in with a nothing to lose, us against the world mentality and it worked. From the first pitch, you could see they were confident and had no fear of the Ducks. Last night seemed to be a different story, while they were loose before the game running routes in the outfield when the game started, it looked like Oregon had all the energy, and that would carry throughout the game. If Kentucky comes out unphased and gets the energy going early, I believe it will be a fun night for Rachel Lawson and the Wildcats.

4. Kentucky is Battle Tested

Finally, the most important aspect of tonight’s game, Kentucky is battle tested. Kentucky had the second strongest strength of schedule this season in softball and played in the toughest conference. Kentucky has honestly prepared for this moment all season, and it will be interesting to see if their strength of schedule will benefit them tonight against their toughest opponent yet.

If Kentucky can capitalize on all of these tonight, they will be in good shape to head to the College World Series for the second time in school history. First Pitch is slated for 9 pm ET on ESPN.


@UKsoftball

Kentucky Drops Game Two of Super Regional

@UKsoftball

In game two of the Super Regional from Eugene, the Wildcats tried to keep the success they’ve had so far this postseason into tonight to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City, but Kentucky just couldn’t get anything going tonight offensively as they fall to Oregon 6-1.

Miranda Elish tore right through the Cats tonight, only allowing two hits all night and retiring the first nine batters. Kentucky just couldn’t figure her out. Elish was hitting her sports, primarily the outside corner and Kentucky couldn’t handle it. She also kept the ball on the ground whenever the Cats did put it in play as Kentucky only had two balls leave the infield tonight. Both of those hits coming from Alex Martens who had a SAC fly, which scored Jenny Schaper, and a single tonight. Elish dealt seven strikeouts tonight in the complete game, including five straight between the second and third innings.

Another thing that made Elish so tough to hit tonight was her pitching style. Last night Kentucky dominated Kleist who went with the approach of using the rise ball to her advantage and relying on her stuff more than overpowering the hitters. Kleist’s approach benefited Kentucky’s approach because she always left balls in the wheelhouse which led to a big day for Kentucky. But, with Elish, she was more focused on working down and away, overpowering the hitters and because of that Kentucky couldn’t turn on or lift any pitches. IF Elish goes, game three Kentucky must rely on small ball to deal with Elish’s pitching style.

Coming into tonight’s game, Kentucky was outscoring opponents 38-7 in the postseason, and it came as an unpleasant surprise to not only see the Cats cool off, but to see them get dominated the way they did. I don’t expect Kentucky to be down for long though; there is too much hitting talent in the Kentucky lineup to bounce back tomorrow night.

Oregon, on the other hand, had all things go their way tonight offensively. Although, scoreless through the first three they busted it open in the fourth with a four-run inning, which included a questionable advancement call on an errant throw. The umpires allowed the Oregon runner from 2nd base to advance two bases for a run while only allowing the trailing runner to advance one. Someone still needs to explain that to me.

Nonetheless, the big inning would set the tone for the rest of the game as the Ducks tally for nine hits for six runs to take game two of the Super Regional. Oregon is now 44-1 when scoring four runs or more this season.

Kentucky will play a winner take all game tomorrow night at 9 PM ET on ESPN. The winner gets a trip to the College World Series.


WATCH: Sydney McLaughlin clips hurdle, still qualifies for NCAA Championships

How good is Sydney McLaughlin? The Kentucky track superstar qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships today in the 400m hurdles despite clipping a hurdle in the final stretch:

McLaughlin was the top qualifier in the NCAA East Preliminaries with a time of 55.50 seconds. A few weeks ago, she ran the 400m hurdles in 52.75 seconds, a new collegiate record and the 13th fastest time in the history of the event. Can she beat that in Eugene? I can’t wait to find out.

Watch the entire race below starting around the 1:55 mark:


@UKsoftball

Kentucky Takes Game One in The Super Regional

@UKsoftball

In what was a wild and bizarre game in Eugene, Rachel Lawson and her Wildcats looked to carry the momentum from last weekend’s regional into this weekend to knock off the number one seed Ducks.

To keep the momentum going, they had to look no further than the top of the order, especially from home run leader Abbey Cheek. Tonight, Cheek had two home runs tallying in five RBIs to help push the Cats ahead of the mighty Oregon Ducks 9-6.

Alex Martens got things going for the Cats tonight with a three-run blast in the first inning, ending Oregon’s streak of 30 straight scoreless innings, from then Kentucky didn’t let up. In the 2nd Katie Reed, who went 3-4 on the day, had an RBI single to bring home Erin Rethlake for a 4-0 lead.

The Ducks would soon strike back in the bottom half, and it seemed like the Ducks just wouldn’t go away, cutting the lead to one. Abbey Cheek was right there to answer, though, as she “just got under the ball” and lifted it to center field for a three-run blast to give Kentucky a four-run cushion.

Once again the Ducks would rally across two more runs, cutting the lead to two, and it seemed like things were falling apart a bit for Kentucky. But, Abbey Cheek was prominent once again as she clobbered a ball to left center field for her second home run of the night to give the Cats a comfortable 9-5 lead going into the later innings.

Oregon would end up scoring one more, but that run would be moot as the Cats beat the Ducks 9-6 to take game one of the Super Regionals and only one more game stands between them and Oklahoma City.

Kentucky will play Oregon again tomorrow night at 11 pm ET on ESPN 2 for a chance to go to the College World Series.