It is finals week in Lexington, Kentucky and that means the spring semester and school year are coming to a close. I write to you today with three essays and a short-answer exam still ahead of me between now and Friday, but I’ve got my priorities straight. Kentucky Sports Radio comes first. With only a short time left for many students on campus, I think now is a fitting time to roundup the spring sports and see what the teams are up to.
The No. 3 Kentucky baseball team dropped its first series of the season last weekend on the road at Vanderbilt. It’s disappointing to see them lose a series, but even more so when you consider Vanderbilt has struggled this season, and is currently has a sub-.500 record. But the Bat Cats are still sitting pretty in the SEC and look good for hosting a Regional postseason game, and possibly a Super Regional.
Their quest for Omaha continues against the highly-ranked Florida Gators at Cliff Hagan this weekend, and then a series with Alabama and Mississippi State — two teams that rank in the bottom half of the SEC standings — and two out-of-conference games against Indiana and Murray State — both of those teams have losing records.
The softball season was somewhat disappointing coming off a stellar year that saw the team make a deep NCAA tournament run. Their current record is 26-27, which could have been a lot better, but the team may be playing some of its best ball of the season at the right time. Perhaps the high-point in the season came last week, winning a series on the road at No. 4 Florida — a series they had no business competing in.
The softball Cats will wrap up the season at home against LSU this weekend where they can make a strong statement against a Tigers team that isn’t any better than they are. They will get a chance to compete in the SEC tournament, where they are projected a six-seed, also against LSU. So we’ll learn a lot about this softball team and their postseason hopes in this final regular season series.
— Track and Field
The Southeastern Conference Men’s Indoor Runner of the Year, junior Luis Orta has set all kinds of records in his time at Kentucky, and he dropped the second-fastest 3,000-meter steeplechase time in UK history last week, just a highlight from one of the most competitive running meets in the country out in Palo Alto, California. Senior John Nadzam won the 1,500-meter run with a career best time, making a late push from fourth-place to first with only two laps to go. And in Berkeley, California freshman sprinter Keilah Tyson broke the Kentucky freshman 100-meter dash record with a time of 11.48; she broke her own record by 0.04 seconds.
The track and field team “regular season” of meets is over, and over the next couple of months will compete in the outdoor SEC Championships in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and hopefully make the NCAA Nationals in Des Moines, Iowa.
The men’s golf team remained competitive this season, but never seemed to be a significant threat throughout the season. Early on they won their own Bluegrass Invitational, and followed up with a good finish at the Bearcat Invitational in Hebron, Kentucky. But once the traveling picked up, lower finishes started to come. The Cats finished seventh at the SEC Tournament in Georgia, led by junior Chase Parker and sophomore Cody Martin who shot even- and one-over-par respectively.
The SEC, like in so many other sports, is a very good conference for golf. Currently Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas, LSU, Florida and Georgia are all in the Top-25 rankings, so a seventh place finish isn’t too bad all things considered. But the golf team finds themselves sitting on the bubble for the postseason, hoping to earn a bid to the NCAA’s. It’s just a waiting game right now.
The women’s golf team was selected today to compete in the NCAA tournament, making the field of 72 for the second-consecutive season. They will play in the Central Regional in Columbus, Ohio
Men’s tennis, like the baseball team, is bringing a lot of publicity to the non-major sports of Kentucky. The tennis team is led by SEC Coach of the Year Dennis Emery, and SEC Player of the Year Eric Quigley. The team has been consistently ranked in the Top-10 of the national polls, going back to last season and hasn’t dropped out in 17 weeks. They are currently ranked No. 6 with a 26-5 record. Quigley owns the most wins in school history and is only the second player to earn the title of SEC Player of the Year. To really know how good he is, he is rated the third-best singles player in the nation.
The NCAA tournament starts up next week with the first and second rounds, continuing the following week with the finals. After that is the singles and doubles championships which will surely be represented by several Kentucky players.
The women’s tennis team was an 11-seed in the SEC tournament and fell to the six-seed South Carolina in the first round a few weeks ago. They had a down season, but individual honors were high, with freshman Stephanie Fox and EdmÃ©e Morin-Kougoucheff (a native of France) being named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. The future looks bright for the women’s team.