UK Opens SEC Tourney with Ole Miss Tuesday
May 20, 2012
HOOVER, Ala. -- After falling just a win shy of claiming the second Southeastern Conference Championship in program history on the final day of the regular season, Kentucky will kick off postseason play by opening up the SEC Tournament on Tuesday as the fourth seed against the ninth-seeded Ole Miss Rebels, with first pitch set for 10:30 a.m. ET at Regions Park.
Kentucky (41-15, 18-12 SEC) earned the fourth seed in the SEC Tournament and with face the Ole Miss Rebels in the first game of the 10-team tournament. UK will be making its 14th all-time appearance in the SEC Tournament, owning a 16-28 overall record, with its fifth-place finish in 2000 and 2008 marking a program best.
The first-round game opposite of the UK-Ole Miss tilt in the bracket is No. 6 seed Arkansas and No. 7 seed Mississippi State, with that game set for 30 minutes following the conclusion of the UK contest. The lowest seed to win in the first round will face No. 1 seed and SEC regular-season champion LSU on Wednesday, while the highest seed in the first round will not play against until Thursday. The two teams that suffer losses on Tuesday will face off in an elimination game on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET
The other side of the tournament bracket features No. 2 seed South Carolina, No. 3 seed Florida, No. 5 seed Vanderbilt, No. 8 seed Georgia and No. 10 seed Auburn.
The game will be televised on Fox Sports South and will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the game live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.
UK completed its regular season with the most wins in a regular season in the history of the program, equaling the 41 from the school-record 44 win UK season in 2008. UK also tied the school-record set in 2006 by winning seven of its 10 SEC series matchups in 2012. The Wildcats led the SEC eight of 10 weeks and boasted series wins over No. 2 South Carolina, No. 10 Ole Miss, No. 1 LSU at home and road series wins at Tennessee, No. 18 Georgia and No. 9 Arkansas. UK also
Kentucky is in the midst of a potential 15-day road trip, starting at Murray State in Paducah, Ky., on Tuesday, before traveling to blistering-hot Mississippi State, with the MSU riding the strength of pitching staff – ranked No. 3 in the NCAA in ERA entering the weekend – to the series sweep.
The Wildcats won a three-game series against the then-ranked No. 10 Rebels in Lexington from April 6-8. UK won the opener 3-2, before Ole Miss rallied to even the series with a 9-3 win on Saturday. In the finale, UK posted an 8-3 win to claim the series.
UK’s appearance in the SEC Tournament is its first since the 2008 season, when UK posted a game-one win over Alabama, before suffering a walk-off loss against Ole Miss and red-hot slugging outfielder Michael Guerrero in the bottom of the ninth inning when holding a one-run lead behind the strength of late-inning heroics from Sawyer Carroll and Collin Cowgill. After the Ole Miss game ended just before 3 a.m. ET at Regions Park, UK returned for an early game the next day against Alabama, with the Tide getting a first-inning grand slam in the win.
CSS and Fox Sport South will team up to show every game from the first five days of the tournament. The SEC Tournament championship game, slated for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET, will be on ESPN2.
The Wildcats have been led offensively by freshman centerfielder Austin Cousino, who owns a .330 average with 19 doubles, nine homers and 38 RBI, stealing 11 bases. Catcher Luke Maile – a semifinalist for the Dick Howser Collegiate Player of the Year Trophy – has hit .319 with 13 doubles, 12 homers and 49 RBI, stealing nine bags. Third baseman Thomas McCarthy has hit .300 with 16 doubles, five homers and 29 RBI, while senior catcher Michael Williams owns a .297 mark with eight doubles, three homers and 32 RBI.