In case you haven’t heard, or have been living beneath a flame-retardant couch, the University of Kentucky brought home the hardware, winning the greatest tournament in sports. The basketball team, followed by Big Blue Nation, toured the south and manhandled every team that stood in their path. In the end, Anthony Davis led a star-studded cast put together by Coach Calipari to a national championship.
But this is all well-documented. The entire state of Kentucky watched this drama unfold, and when the final seconds left red zeroes upon the scoreboard, the entire state erupted in celebration. Every eye was on Kentucky’s beloved Wildcats.
Sadly, another Wildcat team is flying completely beneath the Big Blue radar. The University of Kentucky’s baseball team is putting together an incredible season –a season being largely ignored by the devoted Wildcat fan base. They were the last team in all of college baseball to lose a game. They are tearing up the extremely difficult SEC. And they are doing this without anyone noticing.
The apathy is understandable. After all, it has been a long held notion that Kentucky is simply a basketball school in a basketball state that wins basketball champions.
It’s time to rethink that notion.
UK Baseball has constructed a season that puts them near the forefront of the contender conversation. Going into tonight’s game against in-state rival Louisville, UK has a record of 30-3. The USA Today Coach’s Poll ranks the Wildcats at two, only behind the fellow-SEC contending Florida Gators. Just like the Wildcats on the hardwood, the Wildcats on the diamond are on the short list of best teams in the entire nation.
This quiet ascent of UK baseball has been driven by a potent offense. With a .328 team batting average, the Wildcats lead the SEC and are second in the nation in hitting. This propensity for finding the gaps, coupled with nationwide top-three rankings in on-base percentage and runs scored, has allowed the Wildcats to outscore their 2012 opponents by an astounding 139 runs –a combined box score of 261 to 122. The offense features several key cogs, including Luke Mailo (.341/9 HR/36 RBI/.405 OBP) and Austin Cousino (.365/5 HR/27 RBI). As a unit, it’s currently placing fear in the hearts of SEC pitchers.
Most promisingly, this amazing run by the Wildcats has included significant, difficult victories. Five of their victories, already, come against teams in the nation’s top 20, including South Carolina and Ole Miss. If UK can continue to look dominant in SEC baseball, there is no question that they will be hosting playoff games and favored to make a splash in Omaha.
So, yes, the basketball season is over. But the continuation of the Wildcat winning tradition is still on full display. While the Big Blue Nation speculates on Anthony Davis’ future, searches for vague hopes in the football season, or twiddles their thumbs waiting for next year’s Midnight Madness, the Wildcat baseball team is putting on a show worth watching.
It’s time to take notice. It’s time to realize that the University of Kentucky is more than basketball, brows, and banners. It’s time for the ping of the Wildcat bat to reverberate throughout Big Blue Nation. Otherwise, the fans of Kentucky are missing out on a chance to witness history –to witness a winning tradition that transcends the boundaries of Rupp Arena and embodies the kids that wear UK upon their chest and play their game on the diamond.
You can follow Cory on Twitter @CoCoCoryCollins
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