Marcus Nidiffer Named SEC Player of the Week
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- After belting a game-winning grand slam in the bottom of the eighth inning in the final at bat of his home career, Kentucky fifth-year senior catcher Marcus Nidiffer has been selected the Southeastern Conference Player of the Week, it was announced by the league office Monday afternoon.
A native of Bristol, Tenn., Nidiffer had a career week, helping lead UK to its first series sweep over LSU in 19 years, handing the 20th-ranked Tigers three consecutive losses over the weekend. Nidiffer batted .500 (11-for-22) during the five-game week, with one double, two homers and 11 RBI, drawing two walks, getting hit by one pitch and striking out just once.
In the final at bat of his home career at Kentucky, Nidiffer came to the plate with the bases loaded, one out and UK trailing by two runs with LSU All-American closer Matty Ott on the mound. Nidiffer worked the count to 3-2, fouling off one full-count pitch before belting the seventh pitch of the at bat over the leftfield fence for his 10th home run of the season, lifting UK to the series sweep over the Tigers. The win helped vault UK back into contention for the SEC Tournament, held May 26-30 at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., with UK currently in a four-way tie for the seventh and eighth spots in the tournament.
Nidiffer started the week strong with a career outing at Indiana on Tuesday, batting 5-for-7 with a homer, setting new career highs in hits (five) and runs scored (four), adding three RBI. His five-hit game marked the first for a UK player since All-SEC second baseman Ryan Wilkes charted five hits against Wright State in 2008.
In a series-opening win vs. LSU on Friday, Nidiffer drew a walk and added an RBI and Saturday, Nidiffer turned in a splendid game, helping UK clinch the series, with a 3-for-5 performance, adding a double. In a Wednesday game with Lipscomb, Nidiffer batted 2-for-4 with two RBI while getting plunked by a pitch.
On the year, Nidiffer has batted .321 (43-for-134) with 29 runs scored, six doubles, 10 homers and 34 RBI. Last season, Nidiffer belted a career-high 10 homers, becoming just the fourth catcher in program annals to lead the Wildcats in homers.
With Nidiffer, Lance Ray, Gunner Glad, Taylor Black and Andy Burns each owning 10 or more homers, UK set a new school record with five players belting double-digit home runs. UK has hit 80 total homers in 2010, ranking second in the SEC.
The honor is the second consecutive SEC weekly award for a UK player, as right-handed pitcher Jordan Cooper was named SEC Freshman of the Week last week after tossing 6.2 innings of one-run ball against No. 4 South Carolina.
The Wildcats return to action Tuesday, traveling to Paducah, Ky., known as Quilt City USA and the hometown of UK sophomore outfielder Chad Wright, for a matchup with Murray State at Brooks Stadium, with first pitch slated for 7 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Blue Sports Network (radio), with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. In Lexington the game can be heard live on WLAP 630-AM and in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM, in addition to complete coverage on UKathletics.com.