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5 Track Cats Make PanAm Games Team

Cheryl Treworgy

5 Wildcats competed in Eugene, Oregon over the weekend for a shot to make the PanAm Games Team.

Dezerea Bryant was the first to do so, finishing 5th in the 200m dash. Joining her, Kendra Harrison won the silver medal in the 100m hurdles. Continuing the Kentucky success, Sha’keela Saunders finished 5th in the long jump, Jacklyn Howell earned the silver medal in the 100m hurdles, and Andrew Evans finished 3rd in the discus throw. They will compete next month  in Edmonton, Canada.

@PerkiliciousKSR


Darnell Makes An Impact Off The Field

Darnell Makes An Impact Off The Field

darnellgetty

Getty Images

In our past interviews with former Cats in the minor leagues, the players tell us of their long bus rides and quick meals. The story of former Kentucky Pitcher Logan Darnell’s career is not much different but for one much more difficult part. He has to be away for seven months from his mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease.

Darnell is currently with the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple-A Affiliate of the Minnesota Twins. Despite being so far from his hometown of Nashville, Darnell made a big impact on the disease that has influenced his family. Darnell organized a jersey auction with the Red Wings. Jerseys designed and paid for by Darnell were worn by the team for Alzheimer’s Awareness Night and auctioned off during the game to benefit awareness in the Rochester Area. “I feel like having the platform of playing in Rochester gave me a good chance to do that and be successful at it,” said Darnell. “It meant a lot that my teammates where able to help and wear the jerseys in honor of people who are affected by the disease and my mother.”

The disease has taken its toll on Darnell and his family since his mother, Caye, was diagnosed in 2012. “The biggest impact is definitely on my dad and brother with them always being home and having to keep tabs on her,” said Darnell. “For me, it’s being gone for seven months and coming back to see the changes she has had since the last time I saw her.” His mother is no longer able to travel to see her son pitch, which is difficult with him making his pro debut last year and being promoted to Minnesota periodically. While he has been in Rochester this year, he grew a bond with the community that led him to connect with the Rochester Alzheimer’s Association and put his plan of raising money into action.

The impact that Alzheimer’s has had on his family led Darnell to put together Alzheimer’s Awareness Night in Rochester. The 26-year old paid for each jersey’s production and design before they were to be auctioned off during the Red Wings’ game against the Louisville Bats on June 19th. Caye was not able to make the trip to Rochester for the special night, but Darnell’s father was on hand to see the event. Rob Darnell threw out the first pitch, with his son as catcher to begin the night. 

The jersey auction was a huge success. Darnell had a goal of 5,000 dollars in donations in mind, but that goal was surpassed when the team helped to raise over 7,000 dollars. Darnell’s jersey was bought for 650 dollars, but was donated back to Darnell and his family. Former Kentucky star Alex Meyer’s father donated 500 dollars, along with former Chicago Cubs’ Manager and current Red Wings’ coach Mike Quade donating $500. “I was proud and humbled by how much we were able to raise and help the local chapter in the Finger Lakes, the whole night was a success,” said Darnell.

Following the Red Wings’ 7-3 win, Darnell addressed the fans in attendance and thanked them for their contribution while declaring Rochester as his “second home”. The night was special for Darnell and for the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Darnell is optimistic about the donations and finding a cure for the disease. ” It’s a tough disease because the mind slips away while the body is perfectly healthy and it’s very expensive to treat and house patients, so helping and funding is critical,” said Darnell. “It is a disease that is very close to being cured and within the next 20 years they are thought to have a cure, so of course donations are great.” Darnell and his family have persevered through this difficult time and have been proactive about his mother’s diagnosis. “Through prayers and learning about the disease we have used our faith to know that God is in control and it will be OK in the end,” said Darnell. “We just try and control what we can and try and make the best of every situation.”

 

Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Darnell family as Caye fights her battle. Want to help the Rochester Alzheimer’s Association? Join or donate here.

 

@TreyHuntsmanKSR

 


Trevor Gott Off To Fantastic Start

Trevor Gott Off To Fantastic Start

gottUK

Following his first promotion to the major leagues, Trevor Gott has been phenomenal for the Los Angeles Angels. In five games, Gott has not allowed a run in five innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Gott has worked his way into a spot in the Angels’ bullpen as their 7th inning man. The Angels have been looking throughout the season for someone to fill this void, and Gott’s recent success has led some to believe he may stick in the majors at that spot. He has pitched in the seventh inning in four of his five appearances, and allowed more than one hit only once. 

Want to read more on what the Angels have to say about Gott? Click here. 

 

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


The University of Kentucky, no longer a basketball school

Coach Cal surrendered to UK Track & Field coach Edrick Floreal on Twitter tonight, admitting Kentucky is a track school. Cal  told Floreal when he arrived in Lexington that UK could be a track school, and tonight he said, “It’s official.”

UK Track has been outstanding under Floreal’s watch. The women recently finished as the NCAA runner-up in a school best finish and Floreal was named Southeast Region Coach of the Year.

Still, “track school” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.


(K Fund)

Kentucky Pursuing Approval for New Baseball and Tennis Facilities

Cliff Hagan Stadium

With all the news facilities for football being unraveled this fall, Mitch Barnhart has announced the next step in UK’s plan to improve athletic facilities. The University is looking to build new facilities for the baseball and tennis programs. Here is the tweet with Barnhart’s quote from today’s University Athletics Committee meeting:

It is about time that Cliff Hagan Stadium got a few renovations or the program got a new stadium. Looking around the SEC, Kentucky’s baseball facilities fall way short of the rest of the league. Even lowly Tennessee has upgraded their field in the last few years to be a quality place to play. This would be a huge boost to the program if they can gain approval. The K Fund webpage has a digital outline of the proposed baseball stadium that will be adjacent from the soccer complex and softball field. 

(K Fund)

(K Fund)

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


A.J Reed Continues to Ball Out

(UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)

A.J Reed needs no introduction at this point, so let’s just say what he did this time. Reed hit for the cycle (collecting a single, double, triple and a home run in one game) for High-A Lancaster on Tuesday night. He was the eighth player in Jethawks history to hit for the cycle and the second this year. The home run was his 16th of the year, four more than he had last year in five fewer games. He has a crazy high .424 on-base percentage and has driven in 59 runs. He leads the Jethawks in seven categories, and is second in all of minor league baseball in home runs. A.J has three or more hits in three of the last four games. A promotion to Double-A shouldn’t be that far off for Reed.

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


The UK baseball team loses to Mississippi State in their third game of the SEC Tournament, on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at Regions Park in Hoover, Alabama. Photo by Britney McIntosh | UK Athletics

Cats in the Pros: Corey Littrell

The UK baseball team loses to Mississippi State in their third game of the SEC Tournament, on Saturday, May 26, 2012 at Regions Park in Hoover, Alabama. Photo by Britney McIntosh | UK Athletics

UK Athletics

Kentucky is notorious for producing top pitching prospects. Corey Littrell was a phenomenal starter in his time at UK, and has continued to impress during his time as a professional. Littrell pitched for the Cats from 2011 to 2013. He was a Preseason All-American in 2013 and won the Gold Glove for the Nation’s Top Defensive Pitcher in 2012. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 2013 and has since been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals. We caught up with Corey following his game Monday night.

Trey Huntsman: First thing, how has life been after leaving UK and what have been the high points of being in the minors?

Corey Littrell: Its been good, getting a chance to play baseball at the professional level is something I’ve always wanted to do since I was kid and now that I am getting the chance to do that is awesome! Being in the minor leagues is definitely a grind. A lot of bus rides and delivery pizzas for sure. But I cannot complain one bit because I am getting paid to play the game that I love. Some high points from the minor leagues for me personally are, one, getting traded. It was something that I had no idea it would happen but I think for my path to the big leagues it’s a step in the right direction. Not too many people get to say they were the only minor leaguer in a trade with 3 big leaguers. I’ve for sure had my ups and downs in pro ball but overall I am doing pretty well. Just trying to learn as much as I can and keep putting up good numbers so I can get to the big leagues.

Here is an awesome video on Corey living with former teammate J.T Riddle, who plays for the Jupiter Hammerheads of the Marlins’ organization. http://www.milb.com/multimedia/vpp.jsp?content_id=135258083&sid=t279

TH: To focus on the trade, how were you told and how was that process?

CL: I was on the way to the field and it was the trade deadline day. The farm director from the Red Sox was calling me and I thought it was kind of weird that he was calling me and I thought well there is only one reason he’s calling me (I’m getting traded), but I didn’t think that was a realistic possibility. I answered and he told me that I had been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals and my heart dropped because I was so surprised. He told me that I was in a trade with John Lackey for Joe Kelly and Allen Craig and that someone from St. Louis would be calling me soon. Then I called my dad and told him and he couldn’t believe it. The farm director from St. Louis called me and introduced himself and got some info and I was on a plane at 6:30 the next morning and I met the High-A team in Clearwater, FL.

Littrell pitching against LSU in 2012. (UK Athletics)

Littrell pitching against LSU in 2012. (UK Athletics)

TH: Since coming into the Cardinals’ organization, you have had some success and seen your ERA drop considerably. Are there any pitches you’ve been relying on or what has been crucial in this stretch?

CL: Yeah, I had some shaky starts at the beginning of the year. I had to look back at video from college and the Cape. I was able to make a few adjustments and it really helped me. I was moved to the bullpen a few weeks ago. It took me a couple of outings to get used to but I have since found a routine and things like that to help me. I really like my new role, I’m getting the chance to pitch more often and I don’t have to have the stress of starting. Plus, that is what they want me to do for them, so whatever gets me to the big leagues the fastest is fine by me.

TH: With changes like that, how do you stay in a positive mindset?

CL: At first, I’m not going to lie, I was a little upset and kind of confused because yes, I wasn’t pitching that good but my previous start was one of my best starts of my life. But I talked to some guys like Scott Downs, Chris Rusin and then Jason Isringhausen and they all told me that it is going to be a great thing for me and I need to embrace it. That I need to become the best lefty out of the pen and thats what I have been challenging myself to do ever since. Hearing stuff from big league guys and plus my dad gave me a lot of confidence and knowing this is what the Cardinals want me to do was positive for me. There is no other choice than to be positive in this game that is filled with negatives.

TH: You’ve mentioned your dad a couple times. How has he helped you grow on and off the field?

Littrell and his father, Jack. Both Jack and his father played professional baseball. (Photo courtesy of @littrell21 on Twitter)

Littrell and his father, Jack. Both Jack and his father played professional baseball. (Photo courtesy of @littrell21 on Twitter)

CL: He has been very helpful both on and off the field. His experiences in pro ball helped me to understand what I was going to expect when I was drafted and just how minor league baseball is in general. His knowledge of the game also helped me from a very young age because he knew how to teach the game and teach it the right way. Not many player’s parents actually played the game so they had to go take lessons and go to camps and stuff to learn. Both him and my mom did an amazing job as parents and they continue to be.

TH: Changing the subject, what benefits did coming to UK have on you on and off the field?

CL: UK was amazing. Choosing to go to UK instead of signing out of high school (With the Washington Nationals) was one of the best choices of my life. I loved every second of it. Getting the college experience and being able to wear Kentucky on the front of my chest was so much fun. BBN is an honor to be apart of, I get fans all the time that come up to me and say go big blue or they went to UK and they are fans. I come back to UK and Lexington every offseason because I love it so much. Plus, I wear too much red during the season so I need my fix of blue haha.

TH: Top three moments in your time at Kentucky?

CL: Sophomore year being ranked the 1 team in the nation and starting off 22-0, winning a gold glove, and when we won the national championship in basketball, I had won the biggest game in UK baseball history the day before against LSU. That week was awesome

TH: Thanks a lot, Corey. Any parting words for the KSR readers and the BBN?

CL: Just want to thank everyone out there for all the support they give me! Go cats! And Go birds! (St. Louis that is, I’ll never say go cards!)

Want to follow Corey’s career game by game? Click here.

 

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


A Complete Breakdown of the Kentucky Women’s Track and Field Historic Runner-Up Season

Photo by Chet White, UK Athletics

Chet White/ ukathletics.com

Over the weekend, the Kentucky Women’s Track & Field competed at the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, finishing with a school record runner-up finish. While seniors Kendra Harrison and Dezerea Bryant highlighted the championships for the Wildcats, as mentioned in posts here and here yesterday, I wanted to shed light on how other Wildcats finished to help lead Kentucky to their best finish in school history.

  • Leah Nugent earned the bronze medal in the 400m hurdles with a time of 55.82.
  • Keilah Tyson placed 7th in the 100m with a time of 11.21
  • Sha’Keela Saunders captured the bronze medal in the long jump with a mark of 22 feet, 1.75in.
  • Rebecca Famurewa finished 7th in the discus with a mark of 181’9’’

Again, congratulations to the women as well as the men in their historic seasons. With Coach Edric Floreal behind the helm of Kentucky Track, more great things are sure to come!

@PerkiliciousKSR

 


More Track Success For The UK Women

The UK Women at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon keep on making their school proud as another National Champion will be returning to Lexington. Dezerea Bryant won the 200m NCAA championship with a time of 22.18 seconds, that’s the third fastest time in the world this year! ESPN profiled Ms. Bryant earlier this year and her story is pretty remarkable. Here’s a bit for you to check out:

On the morning of Feb. 19, 2012, Dezerea Bryant was on her way to the T-Mobile store in Clemson, South Carolina, to replace her cell phone.

The college freshman from Milwaukee was just about to make her purchase when she looked down at her phone and noticed her dad was calling — again. Steve Jenkins Sr. had called multiple times that morning, but she didn’t feel like talking. She assumed he wanted to give her a hard time about how much money she planned to spend on her new phone.

Unfortunately, he was calling for a much more serious reason.

That suspicion crept over her in the store when the number of her mom, Zanetta, popped up a minute later. You don’t just ignore mom’s phone call.

“Antuan got in a car accident, and he … ” her mom started to say.

“Are you sure?” Bryant asked.

She hung up, put down the phone she planned to buy and immediately broke down.

She later found out that her brother Antuan Jenkins had participated in a botched robbery that ended with the getaway car being run off the road. He’d recently lost his job and could find work only as a temp now and then. His family believes he must have felt desperate for money and made a terrible decision.

Jenkins died almost instantly at the scene of the car accident from massive head trauma.

He was 22 years old.

[ESPN: Meet Dezerea Bryant, The Fastest, Most Brave Woman In The SEC]

Overall the ladies finished second in the competition which is good for the highest finish in school history.

 


Kendra Harrison Wins the National Championship!

The track and field national championships are currently underway in Eugene, Oregon and Kendra Harrison is coming home with some gold. Last year Kendra ran second in the 400m Hurdles but this year she would not be denied. The talented hurdler just came in first place in the 100m hurdle to claim the national title. Way to go! Even the head man was impressed:

 

Congrats to Kendra on her amazing achievement!


(UK Athletics)

Trevor Gott Called Up to the Angels

(UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)

Former Kentucky pitcher Trevor Gott has been called up from Triple-A to the Los Angeles Angels. The Lexington native was the best closer in Wildcats’ history with a record 23 saves from 2011 to 2013. Gott continued his dominance out of the pen after being selected in the sixth round by the Padres in 2013. Following being traded to the Angels with fellow closer Huston Street last summer, Gott dominated in Double-A for the Angels and was promoted to Triple-A this season. Gott did not allow a run in 8.1 innings for Triple-A Salt Lake in 2015, which earned him the promotion to the big leagues. Former Kentucky outfielder Collin Cowgill is currently on the Angels’ roster, but is sidelined with an injury.

The Angels take on the Athletics this weekend as Gott will look for opportunity to make his MLB Debut.

 

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


Preparing for ‘The Show':  All-Star Reed is riding buses in the minors and having the time of his life

Preparing for ‘The Show': All-Star Reed is riding buses in the minors and having the time of his life

(UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)


He started his career as a much ballyhooed recruit from Terre Haute, Indiana, a big, left-handed guy (6-4, 240 pounds) known for his abilities to throw the fastball and hit the big home run.

And what did he become? A legend.

After coming to Kentucky five years ago, he was the first consensus freshman All-American in the program’s history. He was a pro talent waiting to explode. In 2013, he played in all 55 games, starting 14 as a pitcher as one of the best two-way players in America. Still, many wondered when we’d see the best of Andrew Joseph Reed.

We saw it the very next season. In 2014, A.J. Reed hit .336 and led the nation in homers with 23. As a pitcher he went 12-2 with a 2.09 ERA and struck out 71. He swept the national and conference player of the year awards, a first for a Wildcat. He also earned the SEC’s male athlete of the year in any sport.

After his junior season Reed decided to turn pro, and he was drafted in the second round by one of the best organizations in baseball – the Houston Astros. For the past two seasons he’s been riding buses on back roads, playing every day and loving every minute of it. This season he’s with his third team in the organization, in what’s called “advanced” A ball, just below double-A. He’s playing first base for the Lancaster (California) JetHawks, about an hour northeast of L.A.

He’s hitting .299 on the season, with 15 home runs and 52 RBI in 55 games. (In his last 10 games he’s at .333 with three homers and 14 RBI). He’s been named the player of the month, and a California League All-Star. Folks are already touting him as a great slugger.

Yet with all this going on, he took time out with KSR to reflect and chat about his life. “I’ve seen the site a few times,” he said, laughing.

It made me think he’s seen it a few more times than that.

reed

Reed

*


KSR: What is your life like now? Is it like what we see in the movies? Riding buses and playing ball?

A.J.: You play, eat and sleep. Every now and then we’ll get a day off, and I went to visit L.A. and San Diego because I’ve never been out this way very much. And yeah, you’re on the bus a lot. Lucky for us our longest trip is only five hours away. There’s some leagues where you’ll drive 15 hours to go play. But not for us.

KSR: You’re in ‘Advanced’ A Ball … Does that essentially mean you’re smarter than all the other A ball players? That this is the advanced class?

A.J. (laughs): No. It just means we’re right under Double-A.

KSR: You’re with a pretty good organization – the Houston Astros – right now …

A.J.: Yes. All of our minor league teams are either in first place or just a couple games out. It’s nice to see the big league club doing so well.

KSR: And how are you playing right now? No pitching anymore. They’ve got you slugging and playing first base …

A.J.: I’ve been doing pretty well this month, hitting well, just trying to get home runs and RBIs. Defensively, I’m trying to get better at first base. When I was drafted, the Astros said they wanted me at first – no pitching. It took a little while to get used to last season, but now I’m just focused on hitting better and getting better at first, working on my range.

KSR: Is there an advantage coming into pro ball after being a pitcher?

A.J.: Yeah there could be. I understand how difficult it is. But there’s also a possible disadvantage – I don’t want to start guessing what I would do as a pitcher. I just need to think like a hitter.

KSR: We’ve heard from basketball guys at UK who say the game changes when it becomes a job. True?

A.J.: You’re playing everyday. Your diet changes. You prepare for 140 games as compared to 55 in college. You have to be ready to play everyday. I try to do whatever I can to make sure I’m ready for games.

KSR: You were a junior when you left UK. Do you wish you could’ve played your senior year?

A.J.: It was the right time for me to go. I did miss the guys on the team and I missed college baseball. But it was time for me, in my career, to go.

KSR: After sweeping all the player of the year awards, what else could you do?

A.J. (laughs): No one really had that in their heads at the beginning of the year.

KSR: You’re an Indiana guy. Do you still hear from the Indiana folks about going to UK?

A.J.: All the time when I go home. Even this year, when (the basketball Wildcats) lost in the Final Four to Wisconsin, the Indiana people talk to me about it. They never stop.

KSR: What are your goals and what are the goals the organization has for you?

A.J.: They don’t say much. But we want to be in the big leagues by the end of next season. I have to work at it, and I’m not sure what the normal timeline is, but that’s what we’re thinking. I have to keep hitting, keep hitting home runs, keep getting better at first base. And every day, just have fun.

KSR: What do you want to say to your Big Blue fans back home?

A.J.: Just thanks for the support. I’m glad we got to share the success we did. Maybe we’ll get to see some fans in Triple A someday when we can travel to Louisville. It’s an important and fun time in my life, and I just want to keep playing my best to make everybody there and back home proud.


*

Do you have a great memory of watching a former UK athlete as a pro? I’ll always remember watching Tay win a title in Detroit and Rondo win a title in Boston – and I love seeing JB Holmes win on the PGA Tour. Leave your stories or pics below and let us know. Or email me at clarkr9@nku.edu or hit me up on Twitter: @rhinoKSR or my website: ForRyanOutLoud.com and maybe I’ll share them.


Ka’ai Tom Drafted in the Fifth Round by Cleveland

(Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)

(Photo by Elliott Hess, UK Athletics)

Following Kyle Cody being selected 73rd overall by the Twins last night, Kentucky outfielder Ka’ai Tom was drafted in the 5th round, 154th overall by the Cleveland Indians. Tom was First Team All-SEC in 2014, and led Kentucky with a .375 batting average and 15 stolen bases in 2015. The Indians drafted Tom as an outfielder, but he could move positions as he climbs through the minor league system. Tom is expected to sign as he was a top five round pick.

Congrats and best of luck, Ka’ai!


Kyle Cody Picked By Minnesota

 (UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)

Kentucky pitcher Kyle Cody was selected in the Competitive Round B, 73rd overall by the Minnesota Twins in tonight’s MLB Draft. Cody joins Logan Darnell, Alex Meyer and Taylor Rogers as former Kentucky players in the Twins’ system. All of three aforementioned pitchers are currently in Triple-A Rochester and Darnell has seen time with the big league club.

Projected to be a first rounder earlier in 2015, Cody fell to the late rounds of the first night of the MLB Draft. Cody will be expected to sign, as the money will be too good to pass up (last year’s 73rd overall pick got a one million dollar signing bonus). Cody has an excellent fastball and he will spend time in the minors to work on his command and breaking stuff.

Cody struck out 63 in 66 innings with a 4-4 record in 2015.

@TreyHuntsmanKSR


The MLB Draft Starts Tonight

(UK Athletics)

(UK Athletics)

It has been a relatively, almost completely, quiet time for Kentucky Baseball. Following their loss to Auburn in the SEC Tournament, the BatCats did not receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament. I took the quiet weeks as a time to jump on a plane and head to Lake Tahoe (if you have not traveled there, I highly recommend it) and took a quick vacation. But with the MLB Draft beginning tonight, all focus is back on Kentucky Baseball.

There will most likely be three Kentucky players selected in the first two days of the draft. The first player to come off the board will be pitcher Kyle Cody. Projected as a first round pick early in the season, Cody fell to being a comp pick or an early second rounder in the final months of the season. The first 75 picks will be announced tonight, meaning Cody will have a chance to hear his name called on MLB Network at some point this evening. If not, he will be one of the first players off the board Tuesday morning.

The second and third names that will be called are Kyle Barrett and Ka’ai Tom. Both players are going to be picked on the second day of the draft from somewhere in the 4th-7th round range (there are 40+ rounds so that’s pretty solid). Barrett and Tom are excellent hitters and are ranked in the top 250 for the Draft by Baseball America, but they are only juniors. Both players, along with Cody, will have the option to return to Kentucky for their senior seasons rather than sign with an MLB team.

The final group of players that could hear their named called this week are seniors Spencer Jack and Thomas Bernal, and junior Dustin Beggs. Both Jack and Bernal will be mid to late round picks if they are drafted. Bernal not playing in the final couple games and Jack struggling to be consistent through the season may hurt their stock. Beggs is an interesting case. The junior college transfer was selected in the 17th round last year, but chose to attend UK instead of signing.  He could be picked up somewhere in that range, but choose to return to Kentucky as well.

Nick Plummer, Kentucky’s number one recruit, will be selected fairly early on Monday night. Projected to be in the top ten early in the season, Plummer has fallen to the late first round. But that is still going to guarantee somewhere around one million in signing bonus money, so look for him to sign with whoever drafts him.

 

The MLB Draft takes place tonight, with the first pick being announced at 7 p.m.

 

@TreyHuntsmanKSR