Thursday, December 27, 2012

SxSE: Kentucky Wildcats Baseball, 1895-2012

Kentucky has yet to prove that they are a reliable NCAA Tournament program.  The 2012 season notwithstanding, they've been more of a hit-and-miss SEC Tournament program.  Based on their success this past season, I'll tag them as an  SEC Tournament program  and we'll all cross our fingers that Gary Henderson can build on 2012 and keep the momentum going.  Over the past 10 years the Wildcats have compiled an average annual record of 33-24

Kentucky has been playing intercollegiate baseball since 1895.

From 1895 through 1938, 18 different men coached the Wildcats.  Only two of them coached more than three years, and those two coached for 5 and 7 years.  None of those 18 coaches accomplished much of anything.

Harry Lancaster coached for 16 years through the 50s and 60s.  Apparently his .500 record was enough to keep him around for the longest tenure of any coach in the first 82 years of Vols Baseball.  Tells you something about the value the University of Kentucky put on their baseball program.

After Lancaster was done, three coaches combined for a 214-229-2 (.481) record from 1966-1978.

Keith Madison coached from 1979 through 2003.  He had some good years (40-15; .727 in 1987)and he had some bad years (63-102; .382 in his last 3 seasons).

Prior to 2006, the Wildcats made it to the NCAA Tournament just four times (1949, 1950, 1988, 1993).

John Cohen was hired as the the head coach in 2004, and he drug the program out of the doldrums for the first time in a century. NCAA Regional appearances in 2006 and 2008; an SEC Championship in 2006. And then Cohen left for Mississippi State.

Gary Henderson took over in 2009 and was keeping the program hovering around the .500 mark until 2012, when he found lightning in a bottle and the Kentucky Wildcats were competitive all year long in the SEC.

Notable Kentucky Wildcat Ballplayers
  • Sawyer Carroll
  • Sean Coughlin
  • Collin Cowgill
  • Ryan Strieby
  • Jeff Abbott
  • Brandon Webb
  • Terry Shumpert
  • Joe Blanton
  • Scott Downs
  • Doug Flynn
  • Jim Leyritz
  • Jeff Parrett

Kentucky Wildcats Baseball in 2012

Kentucky compiled a 45-18, 18-12 in the SEC.  They had the misfortune of being in the same NCAA Regional as Cinderella team Kent State, who beat the Wildcats twice on their way to the College World Series.

♦ Productive newcomers are key contributor in dramatic turnaround for UK baseball team (
Little about the 2012 UK baseball season resembles Gary Henderson’s first three seasons as the Wildcats’ head coach.

Henderson’s first three UK teams failed to reach the postseason or finish with a .500 record in Southeastern Conference play. More than halfway through the conference season, the 2012 Wildcats are ranked in the top three in each of the four major national baseball polls, are ranked No. 1 in one poll and are leading the SEC.

Even the UK players and coaches have a hard time zeroing in on a singular reason for the improvement, but at least part of the change can be attributed to a crop of new players that joined the team prior to the 2012 season.
. . .
Newcomers account for 42 percent of UK’s total runs scored in 2012, 41 percent of the Wildcats total hits, 46 percent of their total doubles, 51 percent of their total home runs and 45 percent of their total RBI.

On the mound, newcomers have started 22 of UK’s 42 games this season.
. . .
Eight pitchers who were not on the 2011 roster have seen action out of the UK bullpen this season, including junior right-handed pitcher Tim Peterson who has a team-high 20 appearances and a 2.53 ERA.

Newcomers account for 48.57 percent of UK’s wins and 48.84 percent of the Wildcats’ total innings pitched, including 51.13 percent of the bullpen’s innings.
. . .
As UK looks to close out a SEC championship and earn a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, both newcomers and veterans are experiencing a pennant chase for the first time.

Asked if the team is just too young to realize the odds working against it during the turnaround, Cousino didn’t mince words.

“I don’t think we have any rhyme or reason to what we’re doing,” he said. “I think we’re all having fun.”

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