With May quickly approaching, the postseason is drawing nearer and nearer for the BatCats. Kentucky has a big stretch ahead with five games against top ten opponents in the next eight days. The Cats are coming off a huge series win over Florida in Gainesville and have seen their RPI rise because of the two wins. There has been plenty of news steaming from the UK Baseball program as of late, so here is a rundown of everything going on.
Kentucky is now 30th in RPI- By upsetting Florida in Gainesville, Kentucky’s RPI raised seven spots up to #30 this week. Quality wins over LSU and Florida have helped to balance out bad losses against Western Kentucky (twice), Indiana, and Ohio. The #30 RPI is a huge help on Kentucky’s tournament profile.
D1 Baseball believes Kentucky would be in the NCAA Tournament Field- “So, diving deeper into the Wildcats’ resume, they entered the day with an RPI of 37, and that will improve in Sunday morning’s update. Meanwhile, they are now 10-9 in the SEC with those two road series wins over LSU and UF. UK would definitely be in the field if the season ended today. What a weekend it has been for the big blue,” said Kendall Rogers.
Zack Brown was named SEC Pitcher of the Week- Following his seven shutout innings against Florida on Friday, Zack Brown was given the honor of Pitcher of the Week. Brown struck out six and allowed five hits in Kentucky’s 3-0 win to open the series. The sophomore now has a scoreless innings streak of 15.1.
JaVon Shelby is heating up- The second baseman for the Cats has seen his average rise to .346 and his on-base percentage to a team-high .482. Shelby also leads the team with five home runs and a slugging percentage of .529. In conference play alone, Shelby has led the team in average against SEC teams and is second in RBIs.
Gary Henderson was right about Evan White- Henderson said that White was very skilled at the first base position before the season. The freshman has proved his coach right. White has not committed an error this year and is batting .329 as a true freshman.
Looking Ahead- Following their series win over #5 Florida, Kentucky faces one of the most difficult weeks of their season. Beginning Tuesday, the Cats will play five games in eight days against top ten opponents. Kentucky plays #3 Louisville Tuesday night, #10 Vanderbilt this weekend, and Louisville again next Wednesday. For a team on the bubble, these games could propel Kentucky into the Field of 64.
Kentucky vs #3 Louisville- 6 p.m, Tuesday, April 27, 6:30 Wednesday, May 6- After a rain out, Kentucky will travel to Louisville for the first game of the season series. The second game will be the following Wednesday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. The biggest rivalry on the hardwood is beginning to develop on the diamond as well. Last year’s regional championship between the two teams saw tempers flare late in the game. This is the first matchup between Louisville and Kentucky since the Cardinals won the regional in 2014. Kentucky swept the regular season series against Louisville last year, outscoring the Cardinals 12-4 in two games. Logan Salow will pitch the first game on Tuesday night. As a freshman, Salow stepped up and threw six one-run innings in the regional championship against Louisville.
Louisville has climbed to #3 in the D1 Baseball Top 25 with a record of 34-10. It is doubtful that Kentucky will see top pitching prospects Kyle Funkhouser or Brendan McKay for the Cards, but Louisville’s offense will still be a tough test. Beating the number three team in the nation in a pair of midweek games would make up for several bad losses Kentucky has had throughout the season.
#10 Vanderbilt vs Kentucky- 6:30 p.m Friday, 6:30 p.m Saturday, 1 p.m Sunday- Kentucky hosts the defending National Champions this weekend at Cliff Hagan Stadium. Guess what? They are still really, really good. Vanderbilt brings back College World Series MVP shortstop Dansby Swanson, pitcher Carson Fulmer, and pitcher Walker Buehler. Luckily for Kentucky, the Commodores have been inconsistent as of late. Vanderbilt swept Missouri last weekend, but were beat by South Carolina and Ole Miss the two previous weekends. One constant for Vanderbilt has been Fulmer. Perhaps the most dominant player in college baseball, Fulmer will take the mound this Friday against Kentucky. Beating Fulmer and Vanderbilt would be a HUGE series victory for Kentucky. The Cats already have series wins over #1 LSU and #5 Florida, a win over the defending champs would be icing on the cake.