Shifting gears away from Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky baseball will wrap up its regular season home schedule this evening with a one-game set against No. 15 Indiana. The Cats have floundered in the last half of the schedule, so much in fact, that post-season chances are dwindling.
There were very high hopes for this ball club in the pre-season, coming off a marvelous year in 2012 which saw school records fall and a run in the NCAA Tournament, with much of the talent returning the sky seemed to be the limit. For whatever reason, the bats slumped, starting pitching weakened, and the team in general did not come anywhere close to living up to the lofty expectations. All hope is not yet lost, but the outlook for the Tournament at this point is not optimistic.
At this point in the season, the importance of every win — even an out-of-conference tilt — is enormous. Kentucky will send its regular day-two weekend starter to the hill, Jerad Grundy (6-5, 5.02 ERA) to face Indiana freshman southpaw Will Coursen-Carr (2-0, 1.30 ERA). The Wildcats are in full-blown desperation mode.
The Hoosiers boast a solid 38-11 record and sit atop as the best team in the Big Ten. Indiana is hitting .307 as a team and the pitching staff brings a 2.52 ERA while averaging more than six strikeouts per nine innings. The Cats come into this evening owning a 28-22 record with an 10-17 conference mark. The team is struggling at the dish, with a .256 team batting average, and the pitching staff holding a 3.61 ERA.
After tonight, UK will go on the road to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers in the final three games of the season. Then the team’s fate rests in its run through the Southeastern Conference Tournament. Currently looking at an 11-seed if the tournament started today, the Cats would be paired in the first-round single-elimination game against six-seed Mississippi State and would look forward to a game against three-seed Arkansas.
First pitch tonight against Indiana is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The game will be televised on Fox Sports South, CWKYT in Central Kentucky, and WMYO in Louisville.