Overall Record: 9-2
Record Last Week: 4-0
Tuesday, Feb. 25 - won vs. Wright State, 7-1
Friday, Feb. 28 - won vs. Eastern Michigan, 8-2
Saturday, March 1 - won vs. Eastern Michigan, 9-5
Saturday, March 1 - won vs. Eastern Michigan, 13-2
Upcoming Schedule (times Eastern)
Tuesday, March 4 - at Cincinnati - 4 p.m.
Wednesday, March 5 - vs. Cincinnati - 4 p.m.
Friday, March 7 - vs. Ball State - 4 p.m.
Saturday, March 8 - vs. Ball State - 2 p.m.
Sunday, March 9 - vs. Ball State - 1 p.m.
Player of the Week nominee
5-10 - Jr. - CF - Dublin, Ohio (Dublin Coffman)
Week Stats: .500 (9-for-18), 7 R, 3 2B, 3B, 4 RBI, 2 HBP, 3-3 SB, .550 OB%, .778 SLG%
Notes: Junior centerfielder Austin Cousino helped spark Kentucky to a four-game sweep of its opening week at Cliff Hagan Stadium ... Cousino hit .500 (9-for-18), with three doubles, one triple, four RBI and three steals ... He came to the plate 20 times during the four-game week, reaching base safely 11 times with a .550 on-base percentage ... In UK's home opener vs. Wright State on Tuesday, Cousino went 3-for-4 with a double and two steals ... In a series-opening win over Eastern Michigan, Cousino collected one hit, before going for two hits and a steal in the second game of the set with EMU ... In the series finale, Cousino extended his hitting streak to six games with a 3-for-5 outing, with two doubles, one triple and three RBI, scoring three runs ... On the year, Cousino - a member of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Watch List - has hit .438, with six doubles, three triples, one homer and eight RBI, stealing six bases ... In his career, Cousino has hit .302 (156-for-517) in 128 games, with 38 doubles, four triples, 16 homers and 76 RBI, stealing 35-of-37 bases.
The Kentucky baseball team ran its winning streak to seven games while opening its home schedule with a midweek win over Wright State (7-1) and a series sweep over Eastern Michigan (8-2, 9-5, 13-2), a team that beat No. 13 Clemson on opening day.
The Wildcats - ranked last week No. 30 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and No. 25 by Perfect Game - will return to action with a two-game series with Cincinnati, traveling to the Queen City on Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET, before hosting the Bearcats on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK will then host Mid-American Conference power Ball State for the final three-game non-conference series before Southeastern Conference play begins, starting on Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Kentucky (9-2) extended its winning streak to seven games with its four-game week to open the home schedule. UK wrapped up its season-opening, season-long, seven-game road swing with a three-game sweep at the Old Dominion Tournament, before opening its home schedule with a 7-1 win over Wright State on Tuesday. The Wildcats then posted an 8-2 win over EMU to open the series on Friday, with the teams playing a doubleheader on Saturday to avoid inclement weather on Sunday. UK swept its first twinbill test of 2014, with a 9-5 win in the opener and a 13-2 result in the nightcap.
UK's numbers during the four-game week saw UK hit .353 as a team, drawing 23 walks, getting hit by six pitches, stealing 12 bases and striking out just 14 times. On the mound, UK owned a 0.75 ERA in 36 innings, holding opponents to a .188 average.
On the year, Kentucky has hit .326 with a .439 on-base percentage, slugging 28 doubles, two triples and nine homers in 11 games, stealing 27 bases. On the mound, UK has a 2.77 team ERA, with 36 walks and 68 strikeouts in 97.1 innings, with UK fielding .965 with 12 double plays turned and five steals allowed defensively.
Individually, junior A.J. Reed is off to a blistering pace to the season, batting .429 (18-for-42) with four doubles, seven homers and 20 RBI, also owning a 3-0 record and a 1.00 ERA in 18 innings on the mound. Junior centerfielder Austin Cousino - who hit .500 over the week - has a team-high .438 average (21-for-48), with six doubles, one triple, one homer and eight RBI, stealing six bases. Junior third baseman Max Kuhn has hit .347 (17-for-49) with four doubles and 10 RBI, with fifth-year senior catcher Micheal Thomas hitting .345 (10-for-29) with three doubles and seven RBI, owning a .500 on-base mark. Rightfielder Kyle Barrett has hit .340 (16-for-47) with a homer, 11 RBI and six steals, with leftfielder Ka'ai Tom hitting .324 (11-for-34) with three doubles, five RBI and four steals, drawing four walks without striking out to open his NCAA career. Senior shortstop Matt Reida has hit .250 (10-for-40) with nine RBI and a .388 on-base percentage.
On the mound, UK's weekend rotation of Reed, Chandler Shepherd (2-0, 3.32 ERA) and Kyle Cody (2-0, 1.35 ERA) has combined in nine games for a 7-0 record, a 1.97 ERA and a .210 opponent average. In the bullpen, junior Spencer Jack (0-0, 0.00 ERA) has appeared in a team-high five games with eight innings, with freshman Logan Salow (1-0, 0.00 ERA) working in four games with nine strikeouts in six innings. Sophomore Zach Strecker (0-1, 0.00 ERA), sophomore Ryne Combs (1-0, 2.16 ERA), junior Andrew Nelson (0-0, 2.70 ERA), freshman Zack Brown (0-0, 3.00 ERA), sophomore Matt Snyder (0-0, 6.75 ERA) and sophomore Taylor Martin (0-0, 9.82 ERA) have each appeared in three games in relief.
Overall Record: 9-2
Facing a smaller Vanderbilt team, Mitchell called for the Wildcats to throw the ball into the post early and often.
"Coach pretty much told the guards in practice -- even during the game -- that we have an advantage on the inside," Stallworth said. "So that was really our big emphasis and the high-low was very important."
Capitalizing on her opportunities, Stallworth scored a game-high 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting as No. 12/15 UK withstood Vandy in a 65-63 victory in Memorial Coliseum.
Walker, meanwhile, had just two points to go with her eight rebounds, but had four assists in often serving as the passer in UK's high-low attack against the Commodore zone. Three of those assists resulted in Stallworth baskets.
"I think me and Samarie, we play well together for the most part," Stallworth said. "So we were trying to take advantage of our size and get the ball inside."
UK (22-7, 10-6 Southeastern Conference) used that approached to build a first-half lead of as many as 17 points, but Vanderbilt (18-11, 7-9 SEC) rallied when the two post players went to the bench with fouls. Walker picked up her second with 9:51 left and Stallworth did the same a little more than six minutes later.
"I thought when DeNesha (Stallworth) and Samarie (Walker) went to the bench that we just didn't have much inside presence, and that's where our advantage was," Mitchell said. "You really needed to get tough in there and make some decisions and get some reads against their 2-3 zone."
Vandy went on an 18-2 run and eventually trailed just 36-33 at the break. It would be a back-and-forth battle from that point on, with neither team leading by five until the final minute.
At that point, the Commodores made one final push. Vandy used a 3 by Christina Foggie, a steal and two Foggie free throws throws to close to within one with less than 15 seconds to go. Bria Goss (12 points) then hit one-of-two free throws before UK used solid defense to force a Jasmine Jenkins miss in the closing seconds.
"I'm going to tell you, this team worked so hard to get ready for today's game," Mitchell said. "I thought we had a few terrific moments and really made it tough on Vanderbilt, but at the end of the day, to be able to walk off that floor with a victory on Senior Day, there are not many better feelings than that."
The victory gives UK five in its last six games, an impressive feat considering the Cats' position at the start of that stretch. Kentucky then sat at 5-5 in conference play having lost five of nine games and facing a crisis of confidence. Now, UK will head to the SEC Tournament in Duluth, Ga., with a double bye as the No. 4 seed and a renewed sense of self-assurance entering its opener on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET.
"Four Sundays ago we were 5-5 and here we are still a No. 4 seed and I think that takes a lot of toughness and encouragement and support," Goss said. "I think that we really buckled down and got it together."
To Stallworth, togetherness is the most important word.
"I think us staying together was most important because it just would have been easy for everybody to go their separate ways and just say, 'You know, forget this,' " she said. "But I think we did a great job of just staying positive and just knowing that we have more opportunities ahead of us and we've just come together. That's why we're winning these games."
By closing with a win, UK sends off Stallworth, Walker, Kastine Evans and Bernisha Pinkett with a win in their final regular-season home game, which was Mitchell's goal more than postseason positioning.
"Our focus and our sense of purpose came from trying to make sure we won for the seniors today," Mitchell said. "That was our focus today. We didn't really worry about seeding in the SEC Tournament."
A year from now, it will be Goss embracing her family before her final home game. That thought struck her as she watched her teammates do the same and she intends to carry it forward into what's ahead for UK.
"I just learned I'm a junior and next year I'm going to be a senior and how fast these seasons are going," Goss said. "I just want to send these seniors out right and go down to Duluth and just put on a show and just fight for them and leave it all on the court."
On what he told his team ...
"Well after the game I told them how proud I was that they fought and got back in the game and gave themselves a chance to win. But I said, 'You have to play the whole game that way.' Now, what happened early: The game was called like the old way. It was very physical, body-checking, hip-checking and we thought that was an excuse to miss shots. You've gotta how the game is being called and play that way. So in the second half I thought we started driving. But still--look, when the other team's the aggressor and is playing harder, that's the kind of stuff that goes their way. And so, you know, hey, give them credit. We weren't ready--the game was too physical, bottom line. A couple guys had turnovers, guys missed--again, we had 21 offensive rebounds and only made 14 baskets. That means you had the ball one foot from the goal 21 times aside from all the other shots you took and couldn't get it in the basket. Now, either we're not very good from one foot out or, you know, we just couldn't play through the bumps in the chest."
On whether the game plan for opponents will be to play physical ...
"Yes. And the other things is we gotta figure out--I told them after, 'You guys became player-driven and were talking to yourselves, getting yourselves going and huddling. And that's what I'm to get you to play like when I'm sitting on the bench. It's--I don't want to do--again, they're counting on me too much. And again, they're immature. Things don't go their way, they're looking for excuses. But again, they showed in those 10, 12 minutes, that, yeah, we're good enough. We did the same thing with Arkansas. Well, you gotta play 40 minutes that way. And that's where we are right now. Tough loss on the road. You know, would have liked to have stolen this one in the end. Feel bad I got thrown out of the game, but I'll be honest with you: I think we were better with me not there, you know, because I think that maybe it kind of calmed things down on the floor a little bit as far as the calls and all that and we had our chances to win. Proud of our staff. That's how you want it to be: If something happens to me, we have this thing in order where can win and play well."
On building on that ...
"Well, we--and we got two tough games left. I mean, Alabama wins big today and coming into our place with the attitude that they can beat us and we gotta go to Florida our last game before our tournament. So we got a lot left in front of us and we got some work to do."
On shots not falling ...
"Well, you could say that I think we're still trying to avoid contact and fade away instead of just get fouled and go. And the second thing is, when the last two games were really old-school physical, like, you were going to get bumped on every shot including jump shots and you had to be able to play. I'm not sure we're ready for that. And you're right, that is the M.O."
On defense getting them back in the game ...
"Yeah, and, again, we broke down in that first half to give them some shots and you look at open 3s and different things like, 'Guys, you can't do it in the game like this where the other team's inspired. But we're learning and we're just going to march on. You know, for all of us, we gotta look at it, watch the tape, learn from it and let's move on and get ready for Alabama."
On what was the difference between the first 30 minutes of the game and the last 10 ...
"I think it was energy. We didn't come out with a lot of energy like we should have. In the second half we talked to each other and we were more like team-oriented - like talked to each other in the second half - and I think that's what brought the confidence up and gave us that extra boost."
On how they come back from this loss ...
"Next day, by practice tomorrow, just let this game go and just keep moving forward. We're trying to make, like, a big run in the end and we're just going to keep going day to day."
On sensing Cal's frustration was boiling over ...
"Yeah. It was just him coaching. And he was just trying to talk to us. We just weren't listening sometimes so he had to scream a little bit just to make us listen. We just got to start listening when he says something the first time and just keep executing."
On if Cal should have to do that type of stuff this late in the season ...
"Definitely not. It's just, I guess we lose focus like I've been saying the whole season - concentration."
On how much they let missing shots affect the rest of their game ...
"I don't think it affects us as much. Probably put our heads down a couple times, but we just try to keep going play to play and just try to go to the next play like Coach says. Next. We try not to let shots affect us and just get back on D."
On if he shares Aaron Harrison's confidence that they can still make a run ...
"Yeah, definitely. We didn't come this far. We're not going to lose. We just feel like we can keep playing, just make a great run."
On what was going through their heads when Coach Cal got ejected and if that had an impact ...
"It was just another obstacle we had to overcome. It was just a tough game. It was just an obstacle. We just huddled and said we just got to do what we got to do to get back in this game."
On how frustrating this week has been and how tough this will be to come back ...
"Frustrating? It's frustrating to lose but coming up, we know we can do and it's going to be a great story."
On if they feel like they got it together at the end ...
"Yeah, definitely. I think it was a lot about pride too. We knew what we had to do, and we couldn't just go out like that so we just fight and scratch and crawled and just did everything we could."
On why he thinks this can still be a great story ...
"Because we know what we can do. We know, we talk about it. Even after the game, we just, we know what we can do and we know we're going to make a run to have a big, great story for everyone to talk about."
Minutes later, Dezerea Bryant tied her own nation-leading time in the 60-meter dash with a 7.16 to claim another gold. Bryant later added silver in the 200. Take a look at her win in the 60.
The medals for Harrison, Parker and Bryant are hardly the only ones for UK on Saturday. Matt Hillenbrand completed a 3,000 meter-mile double by winning the indoor mile title for the second year in a row, Keffri Neal took gold in the men's 800, Brad Szypka won gold in the shot put and Allison Peare took bronze in the women's mile.
Matt Hillenbrand wins 3K title