Welcome back, Bat ‘Cats!
After a long 350 days without facing an opponent, the University of Kentucky Baseball Team is ready to get back in action.
Kentucky’s last game was on March 10, 2020, a 10-4 win over Western Kentucky. Three days later, the remainder of the season was canceled due to COVID-19 precautions.
In the 2020 season, UK ranked in the nation’s top 30 in nine major offensive statistical categories. However, the defense proved to be a huge problem for the Wildcats, who finished the shortened season 11-6.
Though projected to finish near last in the SEC, the team is still excited to start this season. Head coach Nick Mingione is especially enthusiastic and complimentary of his team, calling them a “high trust, low maintenance” group. “They’re unbelievable. They do everything they’re asked,” Mingione said during Kentucky’s Zoom media day.
Mingione says the team’s key focus in the offseason was defense. On the mound, the Wildcats are returning several key players such as senior left-hander Mason Hazelwood. The team has also added three veteran transfers and a freshman class full of talent, including pitcher Ryan Hagenow, the highest-rated recruit to choose UK since 2008.
Offensively, Wildcat baseball fans have a lot to look forward to. Sophomore John Rhodes is a powerful hitter, collecting ten doubles in the short 2020 season – most in the SEC and second-most nationally. Last week, he was named Preseason First-Team All-America by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, along with junior Austin Schultz. UK is one of only three squads in the nation to have two first-team selections.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) February 17, 2021
The Wildcats were set to begin their season last weekend at North Carolina, but the series was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests. Instead, they will begin Tuesday night in Lexington against Miami University (OH). First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Kentucky Proud Park and will be live on SEC Network.