Overall Record: 18-5, 4-2 SEC Record Last Week: 2-2, 2-1 SEC
Recent Results Tuesday, March 19 - lost vs. Western Kentucky, 3-6 Friday, March 22 - lost vs. No. 14 Mississippi State, 4-8 Saturday, March 23 - won vs. No. 14 Mississippi State, 3-2 Sunday, March 23 - won vs. No. 14 Mississippi State, 4-3
Upcoming Schedule (times Eastern) Tuesday, March 26 - vs. Marshall - 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 29 - vs. Georgia - 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 30 - vs. Georgia - 2 p.m. Sunday, March 31 - vs. Georgia - 1 p.m.
Notes: Jerad Grundy worked eight strong innings to lead UK to a series-evening win over No. 14 Mississippi State, in the front end of a doubleheader on Saturday ... The senior worked into the ninth inning of UK's 3-2 win, allowing five singles and a solo homer, with two runs scoring ... He did not allow a walk and struck out 10 ... Grundy struck out the side in the second and fourth innings, not allowing a baserunner to reach scoring position till the fifth ... Retired 13 of the first 14 hitters he faced, with nine strikeouts in the first five innings ... It was Grundy's fifth quality start of 2013, with the southpaw owning a 5-1 record and a 1.99 ERA, working 40 2/3 innings, allowing 27 hits and only eight walks, striking out 38 ... In his two-year career, Grundy has made 22 weekend starts, owning a 11-4 mark and a 3.21 ERA ... In 2013, Grundy ranks third in the SEC in wins, fourth in innings pitched, sixth in strikeouts and seventh in opponent batting average (.189).
Notes: Kyle Barrett helped lead UK to a series win over No. 14 Mississippi State, making four starts in the outfield ... The speedy freshman outfielder hit .385 (5-for-13) with a pair of doubles and RBI, drawing two walks and stealing a base, starting all four games of the week ... The Douglasville, Ga., native helped lead UK's walk-off win in the rubber match vs. the Bulldogs, starting the bottom of the ninth inning with a double and scoring the game-winning and series-clinching win.
Team notes The eighth-ranked Kentucky baseball team completed a four-game week with a series win over No. 14 Mississippi State, spurred by a doubleheader sweep on Saturday at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK suffered a midweek loss to Western Kentucky and a series-opening setback to the Bulldogs, before rebounding to win the series with the twinbill sweep.
Kentucky (18-5, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) won its second consecutive series to open league play, also claiming the conference lidlifter at Florida last weekend. UK suffered an 8-4 loss on Friday night to the Bulldogs, as three errors in the sixth inning erased a UK lead and lifted MSU to a comeback win. UK opened the doubleheader with a dynamic pitching performance from senior southpaw Jerad Gundy, who fanned 10 in eight innings, allowing just two runs in a 3-2 UK win, with Trevor Gott recording his seventh save of 2013 in the ninth. In the finale, UK turned to Corey Littrell, who helped UK win its 10th consecutive rubber match in the last two years, with the southpaw owning a 7-0 record and a 1.85 ERA in those starts. UK posted a 4-3 win the finale, as Austin Cousino smacked first base with a walk-off, bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
UK will host Marshall at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium on Tuesday, before returning to SEC action in hosting Georgia for a three-game set. UK will welcoming the Bulldogs at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday, 2 p.m. ET on Saturday and 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The Wildcats have hit .292 as a team in 23 games, with a .414 slugging and a .402 on-base percentage, stealing 33 bases and belting 15 homers. On the mound, UK has a 2.55 ERA, walking just 55 and striking out 176 in 205 innings. UK is coming off its series win over Mississippi State, the NCAA's second-ranked team in hits, where it limited the Bulldogs to a .206 batting average, with UK sporting a 2.00 ERA in the series.
UK has been led by junior second baseman J.T. Riddle, who has hit .360 with five doubles, one triple, one homer and 17 RBI, stealing four bases. Slugger A.J. Reed has a .356 average with four doubles, two triples, six homers and 28 RBI, while third baseman Max Kuhn has hit .318 with seven doubles, one triple, one homer and 19 RBI. Catcher Micheal Thomas has batted .291 with a double, homer and 14 RBI. Centerfielder Austin Cousino has batted .287 with four doubles, four homers and 16 RBI, stealing eight bases.
On the mound, UK's weekend rotation of Reed (2-3, 2.94 ERA), Grundy (5-1, 1.99 ERA) and Litttrell (3-0, 2.56 ERA) have been dynamic. In the bullpen, Gott (2-0, 0.73 ERA) has seven saves in as many chances, appearing in 11 games and striking out 15. Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 3.10 ERA) has pitched in eight games with 20 1/3 innings pitched, while senior Walter Wijas (2-0, 0.73 ERA) has worked in 10 games in relief, with 12 strikeouts and two walks in 12 1/3 innings.
Austin Cousino and Corey Littrell celebrate after UK's doubleheader sweep of Mississippi State on Saturday. (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics)
If you had watched Austin Cousino swing the bat at all this week, you wouldn't have thought he would have much cause for confidence.
As he strode to the plate with the bases loaded the bottom of the ninth inning, Cousino had just one hit in his previous 16 at-bats. The potential game-winning run stood on third base with star Mississippi State closer Jonathan Holder looking to preserve a 3-3 tie in the series rubber match.
But if you have watched Cousino at all during his Kentucky career, you would have known he would step into the box with all the confidence in the world. That's just who he is.
"I just wiped away what happened early in the game," Cousino said. "I knew that if I could get up, I could get him in."
As has been the case more often than not over his two seasons as a Wildcat, Cousino's confidence was proven to be justified.
On a 1-0 count, Cousino laced a single down the first-base line to score Kyle Barrett - the true freshman who reached on a double to lead off the inning - and send No. 8 UK (18-5, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) to a 4-3 victory and a doubleheader sweep of the visiting and 14-ranked Bulldogs (21-5, 2-4 SEC).
"I think Austin's a really good player," head coach Gary Henderson said. "I think good players rise to the moment most of the time."
Cousino arrived on campus an assured player, but that's been reinforced by the group that surrounds him. He might be the best example of a Wildcat who never lacks for self-belief, but he's not the only one.
"You try to have that king of team, and sometimes it's easier said than done," Henderson said. "They certainly hear that a lot from me. It doesn't do you a lot of good to be disappointed for very long."
That was on display Saturday.
The Cats had lost each of their last two games before the doubleheader, including an 8-4 decision on the previous night. Friday's defeat also marked UK's fifth in its last six meetings with Mississippi State, which might have led another team to wonder whether the Bulldogs had its number. With Henderson leading the way, the Cats had no such thoughts on their way to a second series win in as many SEC weekends.
"We have that mojo, we have that feel to our club coming from last year and just bringing that culture to this year," Cousino said. "We fully expect to win every time out."
With starting pitchers like the ones UK trotted out on Saturday, that's a reasonable expectation.
Jerad Grundy started the opener, and he will admit it: His approach changes based on the outcome of Kentucky's Friday-night game. Other pitchers might insist their focus remains the same no matter what, but as UK's Saturday starter, Grundy feels just a little different when the Wildcats lose before he takes the mound.
"You're kind of back against the wall when you lose Friday night because you don't want to lose a series and be fighting to not get swept on Sunday," Grundy said.
The senior lefthander dazzled in eight-plus innings, allowing just two runs on six hits to pitch UK to a 3-2 win. Grundy faced the Bulldogs twice last season, striking out nine over six innings the second time around in the SEC Tournament. Armed with that experience, Grundy attacked Mississippi State hitters to the tune of 10 strikeouts.
"I saw a real aggressive approach, and they were kind of like that last year," Grundy said. "I kind of pitched backwards throwing my off-speed stuff early and try to get some free swings and going to my fastball later."
In his more than two decades as a pitching coach and now a head coach, Henderson has seen more than his fair share of impressive pitching performances. Because of that, he knows how special outings like Grundy's are.
"That effort today was about as good as you ever see in college baseball," Henderson said.
No one will describe Corey Littrell's seven innings in the nightcap in any such terms, but he was effective nonetheless. Starting for the 10th time in a series-deciding game over the last two seasons, Littrell overcame six walks and two third-inning errors before giving way to Walter Wijas. Littrell gave up three runs (one earned) and now has a 1.85 earned-run average in those rubber-match starts.
"I was a little wild early and then the defense made errors, but the biggest thing for me was knowing that I've been in that situation before," Littrell said. "I know I can find it at any moment."
Even during a sophomore season that earned his second-team All-SEC honors, Littrell may not have been able to battle through seven innings, but 2013 is another story. Littrell has lasted at least seven innings in each of his last four starts, a trend that spreads to each of UK's three weekend starters. In 18 combined starts, A.J. Reed, Grundy and Littrell have lasted an average of nearly six-and-a-third innings. Last season, UK's weekend starters averaged a little more than five-and-two-thirds innings per start. They have also lasted six innings or longer 13 times, seven innings or longer eight times.
Part of that is driven by a slightly less deep UK bullpen, but a lot of it has to do with who Henderson is starting on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
"We're a little bit stronger in that area I think, just physically stronger," Henderson said.
With that durability, the Cats have even more cause for confidence.
"We know that we're not going to win every game," Littrell said. "We're going to lose again because it's baseball, but we're confident and we know that if we play the way we know how, we'll come out successful."
A.J. Reed, who will pitch Friday night vs. Mississippi State, is 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA on the mound and has five home runs and 26 RBI at the plate. (Barry Westerman, UK Athletics)
The Kentucky baseball team hasn't faced Mississippi State yet this season, but the Wildcats know the Bulldogs about as well as any team in the country.
Five times last season - three times in the regular season and twice in the Southeastern Conference Tournament - the Cats and Dogs went toe to toe. In those games, UK managed just a 1-4 record. Three of those losses undid the Cats' SEC regular-season title hopes; the other ended their run in the conference tournament.
The Cats scored just 13 combined runs in 2012 against a stingy MSU pitching staff. With the Bulldogs set to come to Lexington this weekend, UK shouldn't expect to see anything different out of Mississippi State's arms.
"They're the same thing," UK head coach Gary Henderson said. "Their pitching's outstanding. There's no other way to look at it."
The No. 14 Bulldogs (20-4, 1-2 SEC) have a 2.27 team earned-run average this season. MSU pitchers have 225 strikeouts in 218 innings, allowing just 151 hits and dealing four shutouts along the way. But it's not as if the eighth-ranked Cats (16-4, 2-1 SEC) are slouches on the mound. In fact, quite the opposite is true, what with UK's 2.63 team ERA and three weekend starters with ERAs at 2.84 or better.
For those reasons, Henderson has a pretty clear idea of what to expect during this weekend's three-game set, which begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
"It's two good pitching staffs," Henderson said. "If both staffs do what they've done to this point, it'll be two staffs going at it. Low-scoring games would be what you would envision and then obviously it comes down to who cracks."
If their first 20 games of the season are any indication - particularly the last two weekends - there's little reason to believe it will be the Cats who yield.
Hosting Michigan State in its final nonconference weekend, UK won a closely contested Friday- night game and bounced back from a 6-1 Saturday defeat to close out the series against the Spartans with a 3-1 Sunday.
Last weekend at Florida, UK lost 4-1 on Friday after a three-error, three-run seventh inning and was down 3-0 through five innings on Saturday, seeming destined for its first series defeat of the season. Instead, UK scored 11 runs over the final four frames and won again on Sunday to pick up two precious SEC road victories.
"We really got kind of punched in the nose the first game and a half at the plate," Henderson said. "The pitching was good. ... For us to be able to come back trailing three on Saturday showed me a lot and told us a lot about our kids and I think it tells the kids a lot about themselves."
In both the last two weekends and the season as a whole, A.J. Reed has done a great deal of talking with his play.
As a freshman in 2012, he starred as both a hitter and pitcher. He was a big part of UK's record-setting season, but his role wasn't nearly what it is in 2013. This year, Reed has batted third or clean-up in all 20 games this season while serving as UK's Friday ace.
"A.J. did both last year, but didn't ask him to fulfill the same role last year," Henderson said. "It was a much different role, much less taxing role I think mentally and emotionally from the pitching standpoint."
The bat has been there all along - he's hitting .364 with five home runs and 26 runs batted in - but his first two starts on the mound were a bit uneven. Since then, he's allowed just three earned runs in three starts and 19.1 innings with a 2-1 record with his only defeat coming in the Florida opener. Even more remarkably, Reed is batting 11-for-21 (.524) with eight RBI and four extra-base hits in the five games he has pitched.
"I think he's gotta continue to learn to balance both (hitting and pitching)," Henderson said. "He's done a great job to this point."
To set the tone for a series during which UK will welcome former head coach John Cohen back to Lexington for the first time, the Cats will be calling on Reed to do the same once again. Henderson doesn't feel like he's asking too much.
"He has shown up the bigger the game, the bigger the situation, the better he concentrates," Henderson said. "If we keep getting that out of him and continue to get growth with that aspect of his game, then he's going to continue to get better."
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, March 17:
Baseball: Austin Cousino
Sophomore centerfielder Austin Cousino had a stellar week in leading the Wildcats to their first series win at Florida since 1999, with UK also picking up a midweek win over Ohio ... Batted .471 (8-for-17) with a double, homer and four RBI, getting hit by a pitch and stealing three bases in three attempts ... Was red hot during the series win at Florida, batting .538 (7-for-13) with a double, homer and four RBI, with all three of his steals coming vs. the Gators ... Had a .706 slugging and a .550 on-base percentage ... In the series opener at UF, Cousino went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, steal and a hit by pitch ... After UK fell in the series opener after three errors in the seventh, Cousino exploded in the series-evening win, going 3-for-5 with four RBI, a double, homer, hit by pitch and stolen base ... In the series finale rubber match, Cousino went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a stolen base ... In the midweek win over Ohio, Cousino went 1-for-4 with a hit by pitch ... On the year, Cousino has hit .325 with 22 runs, four doubles, four homers and 15 RBI, stealing 8-of-8 bases.
Men's tennis: Kevin Lai
In Kentucky's upset of No. 4 Ole Miss on the road, freshman Kevin Lai clinched the match as he moved to 9-0 on the year, picking up his first-career SEC win. One-time SEC Freshman of the Week, Lai has been a solid player at UK for the six slot, as he has been crucial in many wins over ranked opponents this year. Lai and junior Tom Jomby are ranked 23rd in the country for doubles.
Baseball: Corey Littrell
Junior southpaw Corey Littrell turned in a solid start in a rubber-match win at Florida in the series finale, pacing the Wildcats to its first series win at Florida since the 1999 season ... Littrell worked eight innings and allowed just one run, scattering 10 singles without issuing a walk and striking out seven ... The 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Winner as the NCAA's top defensive pitcher also picked off his third runner of the year and the 14th of his career ... Littrell's rubber-match start marked his ninth start in a series-deciding game in the last two years, with UK winning all nine of those games and Littrell posting a 7-0 record and a 1.92 ERA in those outings ... On the year, Littrell has a 3-0 record and a 2.84 ERA in five starts, tossing 31.2 innings, walking eight and striking out 31 ... With his 18th career win, Littrell moved into a tie for ninth place on the UK career list, just six wins shy of equaling the program mark.
Men's tennis: Grant Roberts
Junior Grant Roberts was responsible for four of Kentucky's points this weekend as the Wildcats downed No. 4 Ole Miss and No. 13 Mississippi State on the road. Roberts went 4-0, collecting a straight-sets singles win on Sunday and a tight three-setter which gave UK the early lead in the match on Friday. Roberts and senior doubles partner Anthony Rossi also went 2-0 this weekend in doubles, and now are 9-3 (4-1 SEC) in the three doubles slot.
Men's basketball - Kentucky earned the No. 1 seed in the National Invitation Tournament and will take on Robert Morris in the opening round on Tuesday. - The invitation to the NIT marks the 22nd-consecutive season UK will take part in postseason play. The Wildcats are 13-6 overall in the NIT and have twice won the title (1946, 1976). - UK fell 64-48 in the SEC Tournament to Vanderbilt, despite a 12-point effort from freshman Archie Goodwin. - Senior Julius Mays is six points shy of scoring 1,000 for his collegiate career. He current has 994 total points, with 301 of those tallies coming in a UK uniform. Gymnastics - Kentucky reached a new program best 196.775 on Saturday at Penn State. - The Wildcats extended their school-record streak of scores more than 196 to four. - Alexis Gross claimed event honors with collegiate-high scores on both uneven bars and balance beam. Gross notched a 9.9 on bars, and received a 9.95 on balance beam. Her 9.95 was third-highest on the event in school history. She received a 9.9 from judge one and a 10.0 from judge two as both averaged a 9.95. - Kentucky also smashed the program-record beam score with a 49.475.
Softball - The No. 17 Kentucky softball team earned an impressive midweek win against No. 24 North Carolina, taking down the Tar Heels 18-0 behind the ninth no-hitter in school history from freshman pitcher Katie Henderson. Henderson went all five innings in the win, striking out four with only one walk. The no-hitter was the first for UK since Chanda Bell threw a no-hitter against LSU in 2012. - The UK offense set many school records in the win as the 18 runs scored and four homers tied the most runs scored in a game in school annals, while UK's 18 runs batted in was the most ever in a single game in school history. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner was the leader of the pack offensively in the win, posting a 4-for-4 night with career highs in home runs with two, runs scored with four and runs batted in with six. - The Wildcats could not keep up the momentum going over the weekend, falling in all three games to No. 13 LSU. The Wildcats dropped the first game 7-1 before dropping the next two games in LSU's last at bat.
Baseball - Kentucky posted its first series win in Gainesville in 14 years over the weekend and just the fifth in the history of the series that dates back to 1953. - The Wildcats fell in the opener after a three-error seventh inning in a 1-1 game and rebounded with an 11-5 win over the Gators on Saturday. In the rubber match, UK turned to Corey Littrell, who pitched UK to the series win in a 6-2 result at McKethan Stadium. - The Wildcats have hit .297 as a team, belting 31 doubles, five triples and 14 homers, scoring 149 runs and stealing 29 bases. On the mound, UK has a 2.45 team ERA, allowing 164 hits in 169 innings, walking 41 and striking out 138.
Men's tennis - No. 10 Kentucky completed the Mississippi swing this weekend, coming out of the weekend 2-0 with a 4-1 win over No. 4 Ole Miss and a 4-2 win over No. 13 Mississippi State. - Kentucky now sits at 16-4 overall and stands tied atop the SEC standings with a 4-1 in-conference record. - No. 31 Anthony Rossi picked up the clinching match on Sunday over No. 18 Romain Bogearts 7-6 (3), 6-3 of MSU. Rossi's doubles partner, Grant Roberts went 4-0 on the weekend as well. In Friday's 4-1 win at Ole Miss, freshman Kevin Lai clinched the match as he moved to 9-0 on the year, picking up his first-career SEC win.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team went 1-1 over the weekend, falling to Ole Miss 4-3 on Friday before defeating Mississippi State 7-0 on Sunday. - Freshman Nadia Ravita won two singles matches in the No. 1 singles slot, improving her record to 15-2. - Sophomore Stephanie Fox and freshman Kirsten Lewis both went 2-0 in singles over the weekend.
Track and field - Kentucky opened the outdoor season with seven event titles by either individual competitors or relay teams. - Andrew Evans won the discus behind a new personal record mark of 59.27m/194'05". - Kayla Parker won the 100-meter hurdles with a PR 13.51 performance. - Both the men's and women's teams won the 4x100-meter relays. - Keffri Neal won the 1,500 meters with a personal-record time of 3:51.60. Teammate Adam Kahleifeh also posted a PR time of 3:51.94 to finish in second-position. - Raymond Dykstra showed off his 2012 All-America credentials in the javelin with a meet-winning performance of 67.84m/222'07"
Men's golf - The Kentucky men's golf team wrapped up the week with two top-10 finishes, placing tied for fifth at the Tiger Invitational and tied for sixth at the Schenkel Invitational. - Junior Stephen Powers recorded his second straight top-10 finish at the Tiger Invite with a 6-over-par, 222, placing tied for sixth overall. Junior Ben Stow also was in the top-20, finishing tied for 14th at 8-over. - Stow continued his torrid play at the Schenkel Invite, posting his first career top-10 finish, placing tied for ninth at 1-under-par. The Salisbury, England native charted a career-low score of 215.
Women's golf - The UK women's golf team competed in their second tournament of the spring, finishing tied for ninth in the 18-team field at the Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate. - Senior Betsie Johnson was the low scorer for the Wildcats, recording her first top-20 finish of the year, placing tied for 19th at 9-over-par.
Swimming and diving - Greg Ferrucci, John Fox and Christa Cabot each earned berths to the 2013 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships with their performances at the Zone C Diving Championships in West Lafayette, Ind., this past weekend. - Ferrucci won both the 3-meter (888.05) and 1-meter (825.75) springboard events to advance to his third straight NCAA Championships, and broke the program record on the 3-meter for a six-dive score with a 434.85. Fox earned fourth place on the 3-meter (761.95) to advance to his first NCAA Championships. - Cabot earned her spot on the first day of competition on the 3-meter board, scoring 623.10 to earn a fourth place finish. It will be the sophomore's first career appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Tuesday, March 19 Softball hosts Western Kentucky - 6:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Western Kentucky - 6:30 p.m. Men's basketball at Robert Morris - 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 20 Softball hosts Iowa - 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 21 Swimming and diving at Women's NCAA Championships (Indianapolis, Ind.) Track and field at Florida State Relays (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Friday, March 22 Track and field at Alabama Relays - 12:00 p.m. (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) Men's tennis hosts Tennessee - 2:00 p.m. Women's tennis at Tennessee - 5:00 p.m. Softball hosts Mississippi State - 6:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Mississippi State - 6:30 p.m. Women's golf at LSU Golf Classic (Baton Rouge, La.) Swimming and diving at Women's NCAA Championships (Indianapolis, Ind.) Track and field at Florida State Relays (Tallahassee, Fla.)
Saturday, March 23 Baseball hosts Mississippi State - 12:00 p.m. Softball hosts Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. Track and field at Alabama Relays - 3:00 p.m. Tuscaloosa, Ala.) Gymnastics at SEC Championships (North Little Rock, Ark.) Track and field at Florida State Relays (Tallahassee, Fla.) Women's golf at LSU Golf Classic (Baton Rouge, La.) Swimming and diving at Women's NCAA Championships (Statesboro, Ga.)
Sunday, March 24 Women's tennis at Georgia - 1:00 p.m. Softball hosts Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Georgia - 1:00 p.m. Men's basketball at SEC Finals - 3:30 p.m. (Nashville) Men's golf at Hootie at Bulls Bay Intercollegiate (Awendaw, S.C.) Women's golf at LSU Golf Classic (Baton, Rouge, La.)
Overall Record: 16-3, 2-1 SEC Record Last Week: 3-1, 2-1 SEC
Recent Results Tuesday, March 12 - won vs. Ohio, 6-3 Friday, March 15 - lost at Florida, 1-4 Saturday, March 16 - won at Florida, 11-5 Sunday, March 17 - won at Florida, 6-2
Upcoming Schedule (times Eastern) Tuesday, March 19 - vs. Western Kentucky - 6:30 p.m. Friday, March 21 - vs. No. 8 Mississippi State - 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22 - vs. No. 8 Mississippi State - 12 p.m. Sunday, March 23 - vs. No. 8 Mississippi State - 1 p.m..
Notes: Sophomore centerfielder Austin Cousino had a stellar week in leading the Wildcats to their first series win at Florida since 1999, with UK also picking up a midweek win over Ohio ... Batted .471 (8-for-17) with a double, homer and four RBI, getting hit by a pitch and stealing three bases in three attempts ... Was red hot during the series win at Florida, batting .538 (7-for-13) with a double, homer and four RBI, with all three of his steals coming vs. the Gators ... Had a .706 slugging and a .550 on-base percentage ... In the series opener at UF, Cousino went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, steal and a hit by pitch ... After UK fell in the series opener after three errors in the seventh, Cousino exploded in the series-evening win, going 3-for-5 with four RBI, a double, homer, hit by pitch and stolen base ... In the series finale rubber match, Cousino went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and a stolen base ... In the midweek win over Ohio, Cousino went 1-for-4 with a hit by pitch ... On the year, Cousino has hit .325 with 22 runs, four doubles, four homers and 15 RBI, stealing 8-of-8 bases.
Pitcher of the week nominee Corey Littrell 6-3 - Jr. - LHP - Louisville, Ky. (Trinity) Week Stats: 1-0, 1.12 ERA, 1 GS, 8 IP, 10 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO
Notes: Junior southpaw Corey Littrell turned in a solid start in a rubber-match win at Florida in the series finale, pacing the Wildcats to its first series win at Florida since the 1999 season ... Littrell worked eight innings and allowed just one run, scattering 10 singles without issuing a walk and striking out seven ... The 2012 Rawlings Gold Glove Award Winner as the NCAA's top defensive pitcher also picked off his third runner of the year and the 14th of his career ... Littrell's rubber-match start marked his ninth start in a series-deciding game in the last two years, with UK winning all nine of those games and Littrell posting a 7-0 record and a 1.92 ERA in those outings ... On the year, Littrell has a 3-0 record and a 2.84 ERA in five starts, tossing 31.2 innings, walking eight and striking out 31 ... With his 18th career win, Littrell moved into a tie for ninth place on the UK career list, just six wins shy of equaling the program mark.
Team notes Ninth-ranked Kentucky completed a four-game week with a historic series win at Florida, its first series win in Gainesville since the 1999 season. UK also picked up a midweek win over Ohio, before traveling to the Sunshine State. UK will return to action with a Tuesday game vs. Western Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. ET at Cliff Hagan Stadium, before hosting No. 8 Mississippi State for a three-game SEC series at The Cliff.
Kentucky (16-3, 2-1 SEC) posted its first series win in Gainesville in 14 years over the weekend and just the fifth in the history of the series that dates back to 1953. The Wildcats fell in the opener after a three-error seventh inning in a 1-1 game and rebounded with an 11-5 win over the Gators on Saturday. In the rubber match, UK turned to Corey Littrell, who pitched UK to the series win in a 6-2 result at McKethan Stadium.
The Wildcats have hit .297 as a team, belting 31 doubles, five triples and 14 homers, scoring 149 runs and stealing 29 bases. On the mound, UK has a 2.45 team ERA, allowing 164 hits in 169 innings, walking 41 and striking out 138.
Individually, UK has been led by junior infielder J.T. Riddle who has hit .372 with four doubles, one triple, one homer and 16 RBI. Two-way All-American A.J. Reed has a .370 average with three doubles, two triples, five homers and 26 RBI, while catcher Micheal Thomas has hit .341 with one double, one homer and 12 RBI. All-America centerfielder Austin Cousino has added a .325 average with four doubles, four homers and 15 RBI, stealing 8-of-8 bases.
On the mound, UK's weekend rotation of Reed (2-2, 2.83 ERA), Jerad Grundy (4-1, 1.93 ERA) and Corey Littrell (3-0, 2.84 ERA) have been highly efficient through five weekends. In the bullpen, UK career and single-season record holder in saves, Trevor Gott (2-0, 0.79 ERA), lead the team with 10 appearances, posting six saves in 11.1 innings, striking out 11. Senior Walter Wijas (1-0, 0.93 ERA) has appeared in eight games, working 9.2 innings and striking out seven. Freshman righty Zach Strecker (1-0, 1.42 ERA) has worked in seven games, while freshman Dylan Dwyer (1-0, 0.00 ERA) has appeared in five games and worked 6.1 shutout innings. Ryne Combs (0-0, 1.50 ERA) and Chandler Shepherd (1-0, 3.21 ERA) have also been weapons in the bullpen.
Kentucky will host Mississippi State and former UK head coach John Cohen in its first home SEC series of the year. UK will welcome the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. ET on Friday, with the series resuming at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday and concluding at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, March 10:
Men's basketball: Archie Goodwin
Freshman Archie Goodwin led the Wildcats to a marquee victory over visiting No. 9/11 Florida on Saturday, after earning a 20-point scoring effort at Georgia on Thursday. For the week, the Little Rock, Ark., native averaged a team-high 18.0 points per game. He ranked second on the team with a .429 shooting clip. He was the only guard to log double-figure rebounds for the week and his six steals topped the squad. Against the Bulldogs, Goodwin turned in his fifth 20-point effort and second against conference competition. He sunk a career-high three 3-pointers and hauled in six rebounds. In the upset of the season for UK, Goodwin led the team with 16 points including nine in the second half. His steal and dunk tied the game at 57 and he then hit one free throw for UK's final lead en route to the win. In the second stanza he also notched a trio of steals to push his career-high total for swipes in a game to four. Furthermore, Goodwin has scored in double-figures a team-leading 23 times this season including in six-straight contests.
Baseball: Corey Littrell
Junior left-handed All-America starter Corey Littrell turned in his best start of the year in leading UK to a series win over Michigan State during a Sunday afternoon rubber match ... Littrell worked seven strong innings allowing only one run on four hits, walking one batter and striking out a career-high nine batters ... He carried a shutout into the seventh inning, only surrendering a single hit through his first six shutout innings ... Battled through the seventh after three consecutive hits plated the first run of the game for the Spartans, getting the final two outs to set up the UK bullpen for the save in the 3-1 game ... He fired 100 pitches in the start, with 69 going for strikes ... After an All-Southeastern Conference season in 2012 as the Sunday starter, Littrell reasserted himself as the series-winning starter in rubber matches, making his eighth rubber-match start in the last two years vs. Michigan ... In those eight series-deciding games, Littrell has led UK to eight wins and owned a 6-0 record with a 2.8 ERA ... On the year, Littrell had made four starts with a 2-0 record and a 3.42 ERA, tossing 23.2 innings, allowing 22 hits and eight walks, striking out 24 ... With his 17th career win on Sunday, Littrell had now moved into a five-way tie for 10th in UK career history, seven wins shy of the program mark.
Baseball: Paul McConkey
Junior Paul McConkey paced the Wildcats in multiple offensive categories during a four-game week, batting .444 (4-for-9) in three games ... The third baseman led UK to a series win over 2012 NCAA Tournament team Michigan State, a 37-win club in 2012 ... McConkey had three RBI and belted a homer during the week, reaching base at a .500 clip ...Hit the game-winning, two-run double in a 3-1 win on Sunday vs. Michigan State, good for his second game-winning RBI of the year ... On the year, McConkey has hit .324 (11-for-34) with three doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBI.
Softball: Christian Stokes
Christian Stokes had the best weekend of her young collegiate career against Ole Miss, hitting .833 (5-for-6) with her first collegiate home run and two multi-hit games. Stokes started all three games at second base against the Rebels, earning a hit in each game, while posting a .889 on-base percentage for the weekend. The native of Chesterfield, S.C., went 2-for-3 in the series opener, including launching a solo homer in the seventh inning - the first homer of her career. In game two, Stokes scored a run after going 1-for-1 with a single and two walks, helping UK tie the series at a game apiece. Stokes finished the series off in style with a 2-for-2 effort in the finale, including two RBI. She is currently riding a season-best three-game hitting streak whiles hitting .279 (12-for-43) with one double, one homer, 12 RBI and four runs scored this season.