Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Cats rightfully confident after healthy Cody, Shepherd handcuff Florida

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Kyle Cody allowed two runs over 5.1 innings in UK's upset of top-seeded Florida on Wednesday at the SEC Tournament. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics) Kyle Cody allowed two runs over 5.1 innings in UK's upset of top-seeded Florida on Wednesday at the SEC Tournament. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics)
HOOVER, Ala. -- Kyle Cody's numbers on the season look solid enough.

His earned-run average has hovered under 3 throughout 2014. Cody sported a perfect 3-0 record with five saves in the regular season to boot, but his sophomore year -- in his eyes at least -- was frustrating nonetheless.

After emerging as a rotation mainstay late as a freshman, Cody expected to lock down a starting spot behind ace A.J. Reed. Instead, forearm tightness forced him to miss three weeks after his first three starts and relegated him to a relief role.

"I wanted to do more for the team, obviously, but I stuck with it and kept getting better every day, every week and just kept feeling better," Cody said.

If Wednesday is any indication, Cody could be poised to make his stint in the bullpen a distant memory.

Pitching UK to a 4-2 win over top-seeded Florida in the Southeastern Conference Tournament, Cody tossed 5.1 innings -- his longest outing since February -- and allowed just two runs on four hits to move to 4-0. The 6-foot-7 right hander struck out four and yielded just one walk as Max Kuhn's 2-for-5 outing at the plate with a home run led a UK offense that scored enough to make Cody's performance stand up.

"Back to doing what we thought he was going to do at the beginning of the year, I think that's a shot of adrenaline for the kids, for the program," Henderson said. "That's the type of outing that Kyle is capable of having against that type of a team."

Cody sat comfortably in the mid-90s with his fastball, but that's been the case all season. The difference for Cody was his restored confidence in the pitch he all but abandoned for six weeks.

"Probably a month ago we started getting back into it and week by week it just kept getting better and better," Cody said. "By last week, it started to look really good."

Until Cody became comfortable again with the pitch, he wasn't going to be capable of anything more than short relief.

"It was quite the tiptoe getting him back," Henderson said. "It's just been very cautious, a day at a time, don't throw any breaking balls for six weeks. All of it. For him to be able to go out today and one inning getting three outs with off-speed stuff is just fantastic."

When Cody departed in the sixth with runners on first and second and one out, it was a pitcher who's dealt with similar frustrations this season who replaced him and escaped the jam.

Chandler Shepherd missed three weeks himself with a forearm laceration and allowed 11 combined runs in three outings after his return on April 26. Including the 3.2 shutout innings he tossed to pick up his first save against Florida, Shepherd has now thrown 9.1 scoreless frames over his last three appearances.

"Had a couple of opportunities there to fold and didn't," Henderson said. "Made big pitches when it mattered. Clearly not as sharp early on in the performance as he has been, but he really showed tremendous poise and just got it done when it really mattered."

Shepherd, like Cody, views the postseason as his opportunity to put a spring that didn't go as planned squarely in the past.

"All the incidents that have happened, whatever it may be, it's over with," Shepherd said. "We gotta move forward. We're playing really well together, obviously, right now and it just says a lot about our program to overcome stuff like that and come back and play baseball the way we know we can."

Based on the way the Wildcats have played over the last three weeks, they have reason to be confident.

UK took two of three in its final two SEC series against Auburn and Georgia and now has a pair of wins over top-25 wins in two days to advance to face the winner of South Carolina and Mississippi State on Thursday night.

"Now we're into week three of turning it around," Henderson said. "It's been really positive and good and it's like anything in life that's like that. Your thoughts change, your self-talk changes and you start to view yourself a little bit different.

"Once you start that synergy or that good karma, it's a positive thing."

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/54786

Leave a comment




Recent Comments