The University of Kentucky baseball team finished the regular season on a lackluster note to the tune of a four-game losing streak, which saw the team get swept by unranked Mississippi State. The disappointing finish won't have any effect on the Wildcats going into the SEC tournament.
There's no doubt that some UK faithful were concerned with the direction that the team was headed, as they grabbed the No. 1 ranking twice this season, but lost a share of the SEC title thanks to their sweep at the hands of Mississippi State. If the Wildcats were able to win just one game, they would have earned a first round bye in the tournament this week.
Unable to squeak out just one measly victory, UK had to play No. 9 seed Ole Miss this morning, but as expected, they had no trouble against the Rebels. UK opened the tournament with a victory over Ole Miss this morning, as A.J. Reed and Taylor Rodgers combined to hurl a seven-hit shutout in the Wildcats' 2-0 victory. Reed also put on his best Carlos Zambrano impression, hitting a homer to put his team up 1-0 in the bottom of the fourth.
Despite their late-season woes, the Wildcats should be able to power through the SEC tournament, just as they've powered though most of their competition this season. The Wildcats finished the regular season 2-7 in their last three league series', excluding a sweep against the SEC's second-worst team, Alabama.
Coach Gay Henderson, who was recently named SEC Coach of the Year, made it known that his team is "excited to get back on the field" and had this to say about his team's recent struggles, as per the Courier-Journal:
“We’ve practiced the last two days, and they’ve been very good. You’re certainly concerned about that, but I haven’t seen any of those effects. … We’ve got a resilient group. Truly a disappointing weekend in Starkville, but in our league you just don’t have much time to cry about those weekends.”
Just like Henderson said, you don't have much time to dwell on a bad weekend in the SEC and don't expect his team to do that.
The Wildcats also have the best freshman in the conference, as center fielder Austin Cousino was tabbed the SEC Freshman of the Year. He started all but one game this season, hitting .330 with 19 doubles, nine home runs and 38 RBI.
UK finished 42-15 on the season and boast a 3.55 staff ERA, which looks even better when you put it next to their opponent's brutal ERA of 5.97. They have a team batting average of .297, while their opponents managed to hit just .265.
There's no need to worry about the Wildcats in the SEC tournament, as their weak ending to the regular season was probably just a case of looking forward to the playoffs. You see it all the time in sports. The Oklahoma City Thunder finished the regular season with a mediocre 7-7 record and now they're headed to the Western Conference Finals. So don't fret Kentucky fans, your team is primed for a run deep into the postseason.