Coming off of what many would consider a very successful 2013 season; University of Kentucky’s baseball team started the 2014 season off with great enthusiasm and a winning record. As the season progressed and the end of the regular season drew near they faced many challenges. Kentucky was swept by Ole Miss leaving them discourage and also eager to get back on the baseball field and prove themselves. After being beat by a very talented Ole Miss team (with a record of 41-18); Kentucky went into the Tennessee series with little confidence, until they ran away with the 15-1 win in the first game. Considering that the win over Tennessee came with such ease, it seemed certain that the Wildcats would be able to pull out a least one more win. The next two games Kentucky went on to lose leaving the Wildcats with two unanswered losses. Kentucky finished the regular season with an overall record of 35-23. They went on to compete in the 2014 SEC tournament, but came up just short of the finals, losing to Florida in the semifinals by 1 run.
Don’t count Kentucky out too soon; they are coming into NCAA Regional play with several very talented starters, and a game plan that many teams seem to have struggled to figure out this season. With many talented players taking the field on Friday’s game, one who just won SEC player of the year (A.J Reed), Kentucky will be very difficult to beat. It will be interesting to see if Kansas can handle Kentucky’s hard hitters and very talented infielders.
A.J Reed is not just the SEC player of the year; he was also received NCAA player of the year. He has been a leader and a great example for his teammates on and off the field. When asked about his focus going into the College World Series, he said, “The most important thing is for me and my teammates to stay aggressive and attack our opponents with momentum and energy.” He also added, “Being the SEC Player of the Year is a tremendous honor, but I couldn’t have accomplished any of this without my teammates by my side.”
The motto Reed likes to go by is “Stay in the Moment”.
With the NCAA Regionals being held in Louisville and Kentucky potentially facing University of Louisville later on in the tournament; it will be interesting to see how their rivalry affects their play, and if Kentucky will present Louisville with the same challenges they did during regular season. In the last two meetings between the Wildcats and the Cardinals, Kentucky convincingly beat them 8-3 in the first game and 6-2 in the second.
Keep in mind that Louisville made it to the College World Series last year, which means they have experience playing at a setting of this magnitude.
Whether the Cardinals can steal a win this year, and get past the Wildcats will be what’s on everyone’s mind the next few days.