NCAA Baseball Regional Field Announced
LEXINGTON – Having already learned it would host an NCAA Baseball Tournament Regional, the Kentucky baseball team learned the three teams that would play at Cliff Hagan Stadium when the 2006 tournament field was announced Monday.
The Wildcats are seeded first in the four-team, double-elimination tournament and will take on Mid-American Conference Champion Ball State, the No. 4 seed, in the first round.
College of Charleston is the No. 2 seed after winning the Southern Conference Tournament and Big East champion Notre Dame is the No. 3 seed. Game times for the regional, which begins Friday have yet to be determined.
“We feel like we have a very tough draw,” Kentucky head coach John Cohen said. “Ball State won the conference tournament in the MAC, which I feel is a very underrated league. They have a pitcher in (Ben) Snyder who is the kind of guy we see on Friday nights in the SEC.
“Then you have Notre Dame, which had a huge winning streak during the year, and College of Charleston. Both of those clubs have been in the top 20 this season and are very good. There are just four really good teams that will be playing this weekend, but we’re looking forward to going out there and competing.”
The NCAA Tournament bid is the first for UK since 1993 and just the fifth in school history. The Wildcats best tournament run came in 1988 when the team reached the regional final and was one win shy of advancing to the College World Series.
“There have been a lot of firsts for us at Kentucky this year and you can add this to the list,” Cohen said. “But our players and our staff are not satisfied to just be in the tournament. We’re very hungry and we believe we have a lot left to play for.”
Kentucky is one of eight Southeastern Conference schools to earn a regional, including four that earned a No. 1 seed. Alabama, which shared the conference regular-season championship with UK, led the group by garnering a No. 4 national seed. Georgia also earned a coveted top eight slot by being seeded seventh nationally.
Ole Miss joined UK as the other two No. 1 regional seeds. Also earning bids from the league were Arkansas, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Mississippi State. The Bulldogs got in despite not making the SEC Tournament while LSU, which did make the tournament, was left out for the first time since 1988.
“I think this really shows the depth and quality of baseball in the SEC,” Cohen said. “When you talk about a team in Mississippi State that went 12-17 in the conference makes the NCAA Tournament, that’s saying something. I think having played against that type of competition week in and week out is going to pay off for us going forward.”
Regional ticket packages are already on sale for $60 for reserved seating and $42 for general admission. Single-game tickets, if available, go on sale Thursday for $10 for reserved seating and $7 for general admission. Tickets are available through the UK Ticket Office by calling (859) 257-1818.