Mingione, Hjelle, Logue earn top SEC baseball honors

Sean Hjelle (Photos by Thomas Campbell/Aggie Athletics)

HOOVER, Ala. (May, 22, 2017)—–The Southeastern Conference on Monday announced its 2017 Baseball Awards and All-SEC Teams, recognizing standout performances from this season. The 2017 SEC Baseball Tournament will be played Tuesday through Sunday at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium.

Mississippi State’s Brent Rooker was named the SEC Player of the Year, Kentucky’s Sean Hjelle is the SEC Pitcher of the Year, Texas A&M’s Braden Shewmake is the SEC Freshman of the Year, Kentucky’s Nick Mingione is the SEC Coach of the Year and Kentucky’s Zach Logue is the SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year.

Dick Vitale signs contract extension with ESPN through 2020

Dick Vitale (ESPN Photo)

Longtime ESPN basketball analyst Dick Vitale – one of the most influential and vibrant personalities in the history of sports television – has signed a contract extension with ESPN through the 2019-20 season.

Vitale will be the main analyst on many of the network’s top games, including regular-season action primarily on ESPN and ESPN2 and the network’s Champ Week coverage. The Basketball Hall of Famer contributes to numerous ESPN platforms throughout the year, including ESPN.com, ESPN Radio and more.

The agreement adds an additional year to his previous extension, announced last June, and extends Vitale into his 41st season with the network. He began with ESPN in its first year (1979-80).

First-pitch strikes key to Rethlake’s success

Erin Rethlake (Vicky Graff Photo)

Here is what Kentucky winning pitcher Erin Rethlake had to say after Sunday’s 4-2 win over Illinois that put UK into a Super Regional at Oregon.

On importance of first pitch strike …
“Considering that it’s something that I sometimes struggle with, I usually get in trouble when I don’t do that, so that’s a big deal for me personally. Not trying to throw from behind constantly is a really good thing for me.”

Lawson takes the blame for Kentucky’s low-key celebration after 4-2 win

Kentucky players celebrate after Sunday’s win. (Addison Coffey Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

LEXINGTON — For a team that had advanced to a Super Regional, Kentucky’s softball team did not overly celebrate Sunday’s 4-2 win over Illinois.

Blame coach Rachel Lawson for that. She was happy, but not quite ready to celebrate so soon after Illinois had the tying run at the plate twice in the seventh inning.

“I never know when it’s the last out, I’m always – like Erin (Rethlake) it doesn’t matter what the score is, whether we’re winning by one or whether we’re winning by three or whether we’re winning by eight – my focus is so much like that,” Lawson said.

(14) Kentucky Travels West to Play (3) Oregon in Eugene Super Regional

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky Wildcats will be traveling west to face the third-seeded Oregon Ducks for the NCAA Super Regionals. UK won its regional on Sunday afternoon with a 4-2 win over Illinois – and the Oregon Ducks run-ruled Wisconsin, 9-0 on Sunday.

The Super Regionals will be three games in three days beginning on either Thursday or Friday. The winner of two games will advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City.

All games of the Eugene Super Regional will be shown live on the ESPN family of networks. ESPN and the NCAA will confirm dates and start times for all eight sites soon.

(14) Kentucky Plays Its Way Into Super Regionals for Fifth Time

Kentucky Wildcats second baseman Alex Martenz celebrates rounding third after hitting a home run in the first inning of the championship game of the Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium on Sunday, May 21, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the fifth time in program history, the Kentucky softball team is off to the NCAA Super Regional round, claiming a sweep of the 2017 NCAA Lexington Regional thanks to a 4-2 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday afternoon at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington.

Analyst feels Bamba felt less pressure going to Texas and not UK or Duke

Mohamed Bamba (McDonald’s All-American Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Rivals.com recruiting writer Krysten Peek understood why Mohamed Bamba, a 7-0 center ranked among the best players in the 2017 recruiting class, picked Texas over Kentucky and Duke earlier this week.

She also understood why Kentucky fans were disappointed to lose Bamba despite the wealth of talent already in John Calipari’s recruiting class.

When you read Bamba’s Player’s Tribune article, it’s obvious that basketball was only one part of the equation in making his decision,” Peek said. “I think with a place like Kentucky and Duke there’s so much emphasis on the basketball part since those two schools are powerhouse programs.

UK Baseball: Nick Mingione Coach of Year Candidate

  • Kentucky’s 38 wins on the season are the most since the 2012 team won a school-record 45. It’s also the sixth most in school history.

o   38 wins are the most for a first-year Kentucky head coach, nine more than Keith Madison in 1979.

  • UK’s 19 SEC wins are the second most in school history, just one shy of the 2006 team’s 20 victories in league play.

o   19 wins are the most SEC wins for a first-year Kentucky head coach, six more than Madison (1979).

  • The Cats are 17-12 vs. ranked foes this year.

SEC Baseball Tournament pairings

2017 SEC Baseball Tournament

TuesdaySunday, May 23-28

Hoover Metropolitan Stadium, Hoover, Ala.

 

Tuesday, May 23             

Game 1                 9:30 a.m.              #6 Vanderbilt vs. #11 South Carolina [SEC Network]

Game 2                 TBD                        #7 Texas A&M vs. #10 Missouri [SEC Network]

Game 3                 4:30 p.m.             #8 Auburn vs. #9 Ole Miss [SEC Network]

Game 4                 TBD                        #5 Mississippi State vs. #12 Georgia [SEC Network]

 

Wednesday, May 24     

Game 5                 9:30 a.m.              #3 Kentucky vs. Winner Game 1 [SEC Network]

Meagan Prince tosses second gem to keep Kentucky in NCAA winner’s bracket

Katie Reed, left, and Alex Martens (Photo by Addison Coffey)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A sacrifice fly would be all the damage the 14th-seeded Kentucky softball team would need to claim a 1-0 win over Illinois on Saturday to move into Sunday’s winner’s bracket. UK will await its opponent and need just one victory Sunday to move on to the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. First pitch is slated to begin at Noon ET Sunday.

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