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Today on KSR: A Fluid Football Recruiting Weekend

@jalengeiger

It was a busy weekend for Mark Stoops’ staff.  The Kentucky football team hosted elite in-state visitors, lost a commitment and picked one up all over a 48-hour period.

It all began on Friday when Wandale Robinson made a trip to Lexington.  The nation’s No. 9 all-purpose back from Frankfort has visited campus many times, but he told KSR this one was different, now that Vince Marrow is taking the lead in his recruitment.  “It changed things a lot because he recruits hard.  The stuff he tells me, it’s true whenever you sit down and look at it.”

The following day, Kentucky hosted another top in-state talent, J.J. Weaver.  The 6’6″ athlete from Louisville Moore is one of the top 25 defensive ends in the country.  Entering the weekend, Kentucky was behind in both recruitments.  Now sources tell KSR the Cats are frontrunners for both.

It wasn’t all roses for the Cats on Mother’s Day.  The day began with a de-commitment from Keontra Smith.  Kentucky made an early connection with the four-star safety, one few expected to last.  Considered a top 250 prospect, Smith played with five Kentucky Wildcats at Chaminade-Madonna in Hollywood, Florida, but that connection quickly eroded after Miami offered Smith.

Once the Cats lost the safety to the Hurricanes, it took about six hours to find another defensive back.  Jalen Geiger of Columbia, South Carolina committed to Kentucky only a month after receiving a scholarship offer.  The three-star cornerback also held offers from Cincinnati, Boston College, Rutgers and many others.

Football recruiting is more fluid than almost any other thing we cover at KSR.  This weekend showed the many ups and downs, a preview of what’s to come this summer.

Bat Cats Shut Down in The Cliff’s Finale

Cliff Hagan Stadium did not get a perfect farewell.

The Bat Cats accomplished their overall goal this weekend — they won an SEC series in front of one big crowd after another.  However, injuries prevented UK from finishing the series with a win.  A pair of starting pitchers, Justin Lewis and Zach Haake, were sidelined with soreness in their pitching arms, forcing Nick Mingione into his bullpen early and often.  It resulted in an offensive onslaught.  Miss. State scored three runs in the first inning and never looked back, beating UK 18-8 in The Cliff’s regular season finale.

It did not have a pretty ending, but the game got off to an excellent start.  Fifty years of Kentucky baseball coaches were represented on the mound with the first pitch of The Cliff’s final game.

Shoutout to Coach Keith Madison. The KSR Baseball Podcaster was the only who got to throw out multiple first pitches this weekend at The Cliff.

Speaking of Cliff, the real Cliff Hagan was also on hand for his stadium’s final weekend.  He was a part of that first pitch and he removed the sign for the final time.

Go Syd Go!

Kentucky’s freshman track phenom has done it again.  Sydney McLaughlin broke another record yesterday, recording the fastest 400M hurdle time in collegiate history with 52.75.  What can’t she do?

UK Softball to Host Regional Tournament

@UKSoftball

The Kentucky softball team will begin their march to the Women’s College World Series at home.  Beginning this Friday, UK will host three others in a double-elimination tournament.  The winner advances to a three-game Super Regional series before marching to the WCWS.

The action at John Cropp Stadium begins Friday at noon when Notre Dame takes on Michigan.  UK’s opener against UIC will begin at approximately 2:30.  Tickets just went on sale.  You can find tickets for every session at UKathletics.com/NCAATickets.

JT is No. 1

A Kentucky native is the No. 1 golfer in the world.  After finishing 11-under at The Players’ Championship, Louisville’s Justin Thomas is now the world’s top-ranked golfer.  Not too shabby.

The Western Conference Finals Begin

It was a boring weekend without basketball.  Sure, the Celtics got the chance to crush the Cavs in the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals, but nobody will remember that once LeBron starts trying again.  We’ll see if the Warriors actually have some competition when they travel to Houston tonight at 9:00 on TNT.


Kentucky Track phenom Sydney McLaughlin shatters 400H collegiate record

The Wildcat freshman just broke the record for the fastest 400M Hurdle time in collegiate history with 52.75.
In the process, McLaughlin destroyed the World U20 time and broke Shamier Little’s time of 53.21 set at the 2013 NCAA Championships to become No. 13 on the all-time world list.
At 52.75, McLaughlin is just 0.41 seconds away from becoming the fastest woman hurdler in the world.
 
Here is the footage:

And another angle:

Oh, and she’s just 18.

Enjoy her while you can, Big Blue Nation. Before long, Nike is going to send McLaughlin a blank check and beg her to turn professional.

The Cats have a legend in the making.


Get To Know Mississippi State Before This Weekend’s Series

Get To Know Mississippi State Before This Weekend’s Series

The final series at the Cliff will be an emotional weekend for former players, coaches, and fans. It is an important weekend for the Cliff, but an even more important series for Kentucky’s hosting chances. The Cats need to pick up a series win to get back to .500 in conference play. Before the series gets underway tomorrow night, here is a look at some names to know for this weekend’s opponent Mississippi State.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jake Mangum- Centerfielder

Mangum came onto the scene as the best freshman in the SEC two years ago. He turned down a pro contract with the Yankees to return as the primary hitter for the Dogs. Mangum is known as a high-average hitter with good speed and good range in the outfield. He has been a tough out for three years now, but he only had three hits last season against UK. Mangum will set the tone for MSU at the top of the lineup and in centerfield. I wasn’t joking about his ability to track down balls and take great routes in center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Konnor Pilkington, Pitcher

If you looked at mock drafts a year ago, Pilkington would have been a consensus top 15 pick this summer. Pilkington was a member of the USA Collegiate Team in 2017 and was the #3 prospect in the SEC before this season. The 2018 season has been a little harder on Pilkington. In SEC games, Pilkington has allowed 24 runs in 42.2 innings. His struggles continued last week when he allowed seven runs in 4.2 innings to a woeful Alabama team. Pilkington still has ace stuff, but he has not been the same pitcher in SEC games as he was in his first two seasons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethan Small, Pitcher

While Pilkington has struggled, Ethan Small has carried the MSU rotation against SEC opponents. Small has a 2.76 ERA in conference play with a team-high 57 strikeouts. The junior missed all of 2017 with an injury but has made a loud return in 2018. Small has given a boost to his draft stock by being the Dogs’ best starter this season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gary Henderson, Interim Head Coach

How perfect is it that Henderson returns to UK for the final series at the Cliff? Henderson was named the interim head coach after Andy Cannizaro resigned in February under shady circumstances. Prior to being named head coach, Henderson was the pitching coach in Starkville, a job that he had held since 2016. Henderson had moderate success at UK, but could never take the program to the next level. MSU struggled early with Henderson in charge, but they have since rebounded and are on the the bubble headed into the final two weekends of the season. Henderson has done a good job of putting this program in the right direction after Cannizaro resigned after the first week of the season.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Cohen, Former Coach, Current Athletic Director

There will four coaches at the Cliff this weekend that coached at UK and MSU. Nick Mingione, Keith Madison, Gary Henderson, and John Cohen all spent time in Lexington and Starkville as either an assistant or head coach. Cohen took the Cats to their first SEC Championship in 2006 and took MSU to the College World Series Title Series in 2013 with Mingione as his assistant. The current AD at MSU, Cohen is looking for a full-time coach. It is easy to guess that Cohen will call Mingione about the opening.


Kentucky softball knocked out of the SEC Tournament following 3-1 loss to Arkansas

Kentucky softball freshman pitcher Grace Baalman managed a stellar outing to open the SEC Tournament against Arkansas this afternoon, allowing zero earned runs and just four hits in a complete game.

Lauren Johnson, a freshman outfielder from Owensboro, Kentucky, also managed her first career home run against the Razorbacks.

Unfortunately, though, the Wildcats took home an opening-round loss by a final score of 3-1.

Following Johnson’s big homer in the second, Arkansas managed two unearned runs on a throwing error by the Cats to take a 2-1 lead. Again in the sixth, a Kentucky error with two outs forced another run to the plate to push the lead to 3-1.

Despite managing six total hits, the Cats couldn’t convert them to runs, leaving seven runners on base on the afternoon.

Now, their SEC Tournament title dreams have come to a close, and the Wildcats must wait until Sunday night to find out their NCAA Tournament fate.

On the bright side, Kentucky defensive sensation Katie Reed took home the 2018 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year Award before the game.

Make it count in the Big Dance.


Kentucky Hockey Program no longer competing in the SECHC

Kentucky Hockey Program no longer competing in the SECHC

The University of Kentucky Hockey Cats told the public yesterday via Twitter that they will no longer be competing in the SEC next season. They will become an independent team in the ACHC Division 2, which is the clubs version of the NCAA.

The Cats are still moving forward as head coach Tim Pergram has revitalized the program. Kentucky went 20-9-1 in the regular season with wins over Georgia and Duke, also going 6-0 in the SECHC conference. As this is a slight setback, the Cats are still headed in the right direction with Pergram as the new head coach.

So what does this mean for the program?

Well, it’s simple. The Cats will not have a conference tournament to look forward to but are still very capable of receiving an at-large bid to the big dance, the ACHA Division 2 Tournament. The team will be like Notre Dame in football. And even though they won’t technically still be in the SEC, they will have the opportunity to play SEC schools in the regular season on occasion.

Here is the press release the staff sent out regarding the issue:

University of Kentucky

Ice Hockey Team

On May 1st, Kentucky Hockey received an email from Commissioner Jay Peacock of the ACHA D2. This email stated that UK would not be allowed to remain a D2 team and continue to play in the SECHC. This is due to the fact that the SECHC is a D3 league and UK is a D2 team. We had the option of becoming a D3 team or leaving the SECHC. The decision was made to remain a D2 team with the ACHA and withdraw from the SECHE. This decision is due in part to our geographic location. There are many Cmore D2 teams located near Lexington which keeps the travel costs down for the team. UK was asked to join the SECHC last season with the understanding that we would remain a D2 team and play the requires 6 games against SECHC teams. Once we were notified on May 1st that we could no longer participate in a D3 league, we responded back to the commissioner that our intentions were to remain a D2 team. UK has been a member of the AHCA D2 as an independent for many years. We will remain in the ACHA’s southern division and plan on contending for a birth at Nationals this season.

Clint Ison

UK Hockey

General Manager

For fans that loved the SEC Tournament last year and the solid conference slate during the regular season, this is an obvious blow. That being said, after gaining solid momentum last year and a growing fanbase, the Hockey Cats should be able to recover in a big way.

One step back, two steps forward.


UK Softball wins series against No. 12 USC, clinches SEC Tournament bid

UK Softball wins series against No. 12 USC, clinches SEC Tournament bid

It was Senior Day for the UK Softball team, and they certainly ended their year at John Cropp Stadium with a bang.

Tasked with the No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks this weekend, the Cats pulled out the series upset victory and clinched a spot in the SEC Tournament.

After winning their first matchup on Friday afternoon and one of two games today, Kentucky has earned the No. 10 seed in the tournament.

They will take on No. 7 Arkansas in their first game on Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Here is the whole bracket:

Here are a few clips of the Senior Day festivities:

Game one. Wednesday. 2:30 PM. SEC Network.

Let’s get this money.


LOOK: 61 University of Kentucky student-athletes graduated this weekend

LOOK: 61 University of Kentucky student-athletes graduated this weekend

Yesterday was graduation day at the University of Kentucky, where 61 senior student-athletes walked across the stage to receive their diplomas.

Here is a quick video released by KYWildcatsTV of just a few seniors on their big day:

Former Kentucky receiver Alex Montgomery was featured on this University of Kentucky tweet celebrating one of the largest graduating classes in school history:

Former Kentucky tight end Oliver White played for the Wildcats from 1981-84, and nearly 35 years later, finished out his degree to graduate from UK.

Check out the inspirational story below:

As far as current football Wildcats go, David Bouvier, Dylan Greenberg, Jordan Bonner, Jacob Hyde, Austin MacGinnis, Adrian Middleton, Kayaune Ross, Kendall Randolph, Charles Walker, and Denzil Ware all graduated yesterday.

Dillon Pulliam is Kentucky men’s basketball’s lone graduate, who became the 18th graduating senior under John Calipari:

Alyssa Rice, Makenzie Cann, and Jessica Hardin of UK Hoops also earned their diplomas:

We mentioned it yesterday, but UK Baseball’s Justin Lewis graduated, as well.

Here is the entire list of Kentucky student-athletes:

Baseball – Luke Becker, Marshall Gei, Justin Lewis, Alec Maley
Men’s Basketball – Dillon Pulliam
Women’s Basketball – Makenzie Cann, Mia Daniel, Jessica Hardin, Alyssa Rice
Football – Jordan Bonner, David Bouvier, Dylan Greenberg, Jacob Hyde, Austin MacGinnis, Adrian Middleton, Kayaune Ross, Kendall Randolph, Charles Walker, Denzil Ware, Oliver White
Men’s Golf – Evan Cox, Chip McDaniel, Cooper Musselman
Women’s Golf – Ale Walker
Gymnastics – Katie Carlisle, Amy Roemmele
Rifle – Billy Azzinaro
Men’s Soccer – Stuart Ford, Noah Hutchins
Women’s Soccer – Sophie Babo, Katy Keen, Kelly Novak
Softball – Brooklin Hinz, Hannah Huffman, Shannon Smith
Men’s Swimming and Diving – Colin Faris, Jack Gunning, Stephen Jou
Women’s Swimming and Diving – Michelle Brown-Alleyne, Annie Davies
Men’s Tennis – Gus Benson, William Bushamuka, Jake Stefanik, Trey Yates
Women’s Tennis – Emily Fanning
Men’s Track and Field/Cross Country – Logan Bryer, David Cline, Fred Dorsey, Nik Huffman, Ian Jones, Ethan Shalaway, Daniel Southard, Jacob Thomson
Women’s Track and Field/Cross Country – Jacklyn Howell, Katy Kunc, Michelle McKinney, Whitney O’Bryan, Javianne Oliver
Volleyball – Ashley Dusek, Emily Franklin, Harper Hempel, and Kaz Brown

Congratulations to all Wildcat student-athletes on earning their degrees!


LOOK: UK Athletics celebrates Star Wars Day

LOOK: UK Athletics celebrates Star Wars Day

May 4th marks a very special day for Star Wars fans everywhere, with the date making a play on the famous “May the (Fourth) be with you.”

And UK Athletics couldn’t help but participate in the festivities.

Throughout the day, various Kentucky accounts released tweets celebrating a galaxy far, far away.

The first was the Men’s Basketball account with a lightsaber-drawn John Calipari:

UK Football gave a short, but sweet acknowledgement to Star Wars Day:

Maci Morris of UK Hoops also tried out the Jedi lifestyle this morning:

In fact, the softball team hosted Star Wars night at John Cropp Stadium tonight:

Happy Star Wars Day!


UK Track phenom Sydney McLaughlin breaks ANOTHER Junior World Record

The Kentucky Track and Field team put on a show in day one of the National Relay Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

To no one’s surprise, UK freshman Sydney McLaughlin won the 400M Hurdles event in dominating fashion. In fact, the Wildcat Olympian broke yet ANOTHER Junior World Record with a 53.60 time in the event.

Jasmine Camacho-Quinn also took home the 100M Hurdle victory with a 12.53-second time.

For the men, Daniel Roberts won the 110M Hurdles with a time of 13.53 seconds.

Take a look at the highlights:

Congratulations to McLaughlin, Camacho-Quinn, and Roberts on their big victories to open the weekend!


UK Softball cancels two games due to weather

@UKsoftball

Bad news for you UK Softball fans: the weather has forced the Cats to cancel two games this week. Today’s game vs. Northern Kentucky at John Cropp Stadium has been canceled due to storms moving into the area, as has tomorrow’s game at Morehead State. There will be no make-up dates.

If you had a single-game ticket to today’s game, you can contact the UK Ticket Office to exchange it for a ticket to any remaining regular season home game this season.

The Cats will now turn their attention to Friday night’s game vs. No. 6 Tennessee in Knoxville, which you can see on SEC Network+.