Kentucky baseball went into the weekend on top of the Southeastern Conference standings, but after a pair of losses to Mississippi State on Thursday and Friday, the Cats took the field this afternoon down one-half game to South Carolina. Needing a victory in game three and an LSU win over the Gamecocks to clinch a share of the regular season SEC title, (and a No. 1 seed for the SEC tournament) Kentucky came up well short. They were blown out by the Bulldogs in Starkville 11-3. And to make the afternoon even sourer, the Tigers did their part to help the Cats, beating the Gamecocks before the Kentucky game went final.
It was a day of firsts for the Cats; with the loss comes the first series sweep the Cats have suffered all season. And Kentucky’s stud sophomore southpaw, Corey Littrell picks up his first loss of the season, allowing seven hits and seven runs. The team falls to 41-15 and 18-12 in conference.
What the loss does to their overall NCAA tournament seeding remains to be seen, because their stock has certainly fallen over the last few games of regular season play. However, the team is still poised to make a run, and with a deep push into the SEC tournament, that could re-energize not only the team, but their national seeding consideration as well. Earning a top-eight national seed means you are automatically secured to host a Super Regional if you advance past the first Regional round. Needless to say, it’s a huge advantage to play all your games at home before going to Omaha for the College World Series. It’s time to regroup. With their weak close to the season and a quick out in the SEC tourney, that opportunity to be a top-eight team could go out the window.
But first thing’s first: The SEC tournament is the next step for Kentucky baseball, and they could potentially be seeded as low at fourth. But that’s just a number, because this team has already beaten the best, and they can surely work their way out of the ten-team tournament to win their first ever SEC crown if they can pull things together.
The tournament begins next Tuesday and continues through the 27th with the championship game televised on ESPN2. Don’t give up on the Cats now, because there’s a lot of ball to be played, and it’s a new season starting today.