Most Recent Posts
- UK football coach Mark Stoops on wife: “She gets involved as much as she can in a supportive role”
- Swiss Cat – Vacation notes and photos from Larry from his trip to Switzerland.
- Kentucky softball team earns 40th win to tie school record for most wins in a season
- Calipari says Cats will press more, foul more, bump and grind, hip-check next season
- Caldwell County sophomore Elijah Sindelar special QB but also has big-time baseball options
- Stoops believes he has special understanding of high school coaches
- Video: UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown talks about working with head coach Mark Stoops
- Dallas Prime Prep will bring marquee players Mudiay, Thomas, Ferguson to Marshall County Hoop Fest
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LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw seven strong innings, allowing only one hit and no earned runs, while junior infielder Krystal Smith went 2-for-3 at the plate with a home run and two RBI, as the No. 12 Kentucky softball team posted its school-record tying 40th win of the season and clinched its ticket to the NCAA Lexington Regional Finals on Sunday with a 6-2 win over Virginia Tech at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky (40-18) now advances to the regional finals on Sunday against either Notre Dame, Virginia Tech or Marshall depending on results from the rest of day two action from the Lexington Regional. The regional final will begin Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. If UK drops the first game of the regional final, a winner-take-all game two will be played at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
The win for Kentucky was its 40th of the season, tying the school record for most wins in a season. Head coach Rachel Lawson’s 2011 team also had 40 wins en route to advancing to the school’s first ever Super Regional. UK’s win against Virginia Tech was its first in school history over the Hokies in three tries.
This is the third time UK has advanced to a regional final, also accomplishing the feat in 2009 and 2011. The Wildcats lost the first game of the 2009 regional final to Ohio State while it defeated Michigan in game one of the Ann Arbor Regional Final in 2011. The Wildcats are now 10-8 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.
Nunley was fantastic in the circle for the second straight game, throwing a complete-game one-hitter, allowing two runs – both unearned – with five strikeouts. For the season, Nunley is now 26-8 with a 2.00 ERA, striking out 185 in 245.1 innings pitched. So far this weekend, Nunley is an impressive 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA, striking out 10 batters in 15 innings pitched while opponents are hitting just .140 against her.
Offensively, Kentucky was paced by Smith and fellow junior first baseman Lauren Cumbess. Smith went 2-for-3 in the game with her third home run of the season and two RBI, while Cumbess blasted her team-best 12th home run of the season to finish 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel was 2-for-3 in the game with a run scored, while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner was 1-for-3 with a run scored.
Virginia Tech posted two runs in the second inning on one hit and a Kentucky error. Bkaye Smith delivered the two-RBI infield single to tie the game before Nunley retired 16 of the last 17 batters she faced to seal the UK win.
The Hokies started Kelly Heinz in the game, who went 3.1 innings, allowing four runs – three earned – on four hits with four strikeouts. She was relieved in the fourth inning by Maggie Tyler, who worked one inning, allowing two runs – one earned – on two hits with one strikeout. Jasmin Harrell threw the final 2.2 innings of work, allowing no runs on one hit.
Kentucky scored first in the game posting two runs on two hits in the opening inning. After Joiner set the table with a one-out walk, Cumbess stepped to the plate and hit a high-towering fly to leftfield that cleared the fence to give UK a 2-0 lead. Heinz then got a lineout and strikeout to end the inning.
Virginia Tech tied the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the second inning after starting the frame with two runners on base on a walk and a UK error. Nunley got a strikeout and a groundout for two outs before a hard-hit chopper took a bad bounce away from a UK infielder to score two runs and tie the game 2-2.
UK answered to take the lead back in the third inning on an infield single and two Virginia Tech errors. Samuel started the rally with an infield single back to the pitcher, stealing second and moving to third on a throwing error by the catcher. Dill then hit a soft liner to the Virginia Tech third baseman that went off the infielder’s glove, scoring Samuel to give UK a 3-2 lead.
The Wildcats scored three more runs over the next two innings to take a 6-2 lead and seal the Kentucky victory. UK posted its fourth run on the home run by Smith, who laced a one-out solo shot to leftfield. Smith was also responsible for UK’s two runs in the fifth inning, getting an RBI single to the leftside of the infield with the bases loaded that scored two runs when the shortstop’s throw went wide.
For the latest on UK softball, follow “@UKSoftball” on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
By LARRY VAUGHT
For Terry Barker, it’s hard to put into words what it has been like to see his son, Conner quarterback Drew Barker, go from a relatively unknown player to a high-profile national recruit.
“As a father who grew up a sports fanatic and loved every sport and played sports, you dream one day of having a son that maybe will surpass you and what you accomplished,” said Terry Barker. “I just tried to put him in the right places and it’s been a great journey.”
That journey will now take Drew Barker to the University of Kentucky. He announced Friday during a ceremony at his school that he would sign with UK in February. He picked coach Mark Stoops’ program over South Carolina and Tennessee.
“I can remember when Drew was born in March of 1996 and the Kentucky Wildcats were on TV. They were in the NCAA and playing San Jose in the first round. I was there at the hospital watching and will never forget that,” Terry Barker said. “Even then, Drew had really large hands. He was like a big German Shepard puppy with big paws. You could just look at his hands and tell some day he could be a quarterback. I just said that spontaneously there at the hospital.
“I wanted him involved in sports. But I said we would expose him to sports and if he did not like something, we would not force him to stick with it. Sports were good for me and you get things out of being a team member. You learn self discipline and all the other things in general that sports teaches you. He was playing basketball, football, baseball to see what he liked and he played all three really well.”
Eventually, Drew Barker gave up baseball. He had a solid basketball career — both high school and AAU. However, he gave up AAU basketball last summer to focus on football.
“He wants to graduate in December and get on to college to start earning his degree and learning the playbook,” Terry Barker said. “But this whole thing has just been magical. We are so blessed to have gone through this great journey with him. I don’t want to use a cliche, but he is the son every father dreams of. He’s respectful, humble. He gets it done in the classroom and on the field. I have never have to make him get up. He’s up at 5:30 to go work out almost every day. He’s a self starter. He’s just a unique kid that loves to work hard.”
Terry Barker has always told his son this saying: “There is no traffic on the extra mile.” He says his son took that motto to heart.
“He gets out there and feels he will go that extra mile and then nobody else will be working as hard as he is,” Terry Barker said. “It just seems like everything he touches turns to gold.”
His father says he has the “special personality” needed to play quarterback. His numbers indicate that. The 6-4, 210-pound Conner star was 140-for-225 passing for 2,067 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2012 when he also ran for 1,422 yards and 18 scores. As a sophomore, he completed 93 of 181 passes for 1,009 yards and four scores and ran for 1,371 yards and 22 touchdowns. That’s 2,793 yards and 40 touchdowns rushing the last two years and 3,076 yards and 26 touchdowns passing.
“Quarterback is such a demanding position. There are so many things coming at you and you have so many split-second decisions to make that the whole team depends on you making right,” Terry Barker said. “He’s real even keel. He never gets real high or real low. He stays steady. He won’t get rattled. He stays calm.
“I think his personality benefitted him during his recruitment. He takes everything in stride and stays humble. He gets the message from me to keep everything real and in perspective. His personality fits that. A lot of kids cannot handle the pressure and it gets to them, but he has handled it well.”
His father says Drew Barker has always believed in his ability. He’s young enough to actually have eligibility for two more years of high school, but because of his size — he was almost a 10-pound baby — he’s always played with and against older players.
“That gave him confidence. He did not always win or beat them, but he competed against older kids always,” Terry Barker said. “That just made him better and stronger and gave him confidence in himself that he could compete.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
In just a few weeks, one player that could make a huge impact on Kentucky football should arrive on campus.
Butler County Community College receiver Javess Blue is a player that offensive coordinator Neal Brown is counting on to make an immediate impact next season.
“Any time you go out and sign junior college guys, especially high level junior college guys, you expect them to step in and immediately compete for playing time. He is a kid that (assistant coach) Chad Scott did phenomenal job recruiting. A guy we actually signed at Texas Tech and didn’t do what he needed to do academically,” Brown said.
“He went to Butler and had a solid freshman year and this year I thought he was the best junior college receiver in the country. Really proud of how he handled himself. Physically, he is ready. He looks how you should look. It is just a matter of him getting here in the summer, learning what we are going to do and then going out in fall camp and competing.”
How is he different than incoming freshmen receivers Ryan Timmons and Alex Montgomery?
“He is older. That is the biggest thing. He has had to play against better competition just because of junior college,” Brown said. “You are talking about at Butler where they were runner-up in the country. He is just an older, more mature kid. That is the only real difference with him, but it is a big difference.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
It seems that Kentucky junior safety Ashley Lowery is doing as well as anyone could expect after Friday night’s horrific automobile accident in Georgia that put him in ICU.
Here’s the message UK secondary coach Bradley Dave Peveto (@UKCoachPeveto) posted on Twitter Sunday: “A positive day for Ashely ! Keep the prayers coming ! He’ll be back on his feet at 100% in no time ! That guy’s a stud!”
I also got an email from UK fan Ariel Calahan, who had been in contact with former Wildcat Martavius Neloms — he had been in contact with Lowery and his mother — with this update: “He has his breathing tube out. He is awake and talking. He can answer the questions asked correctly. No brain damage. No broken bones. Hoping to have him in a regular room tomorrow. He is staying in ICU tonight. Hoping to have him up walking tomorrow also. Still not sure how long he will be off the field. Hoping not for long! Martavius Neloms has actually talked on the phone with him and said he was cutting up jokes with him.”
By LARRY VAUGHT
Okay, the main question for Kentucky fans remains: What will Andrew Wiggins do?
But for true UK football fans, there’s another question that is going to linger even longer without an answer: Who will be the starting quarterback when UK opens the Mark Stoops era against Western Kentucky on Aug. 31 in Nashville?
No, I don’t know. But here’s what offensive coordinator Brown says about the attributes a great quarterback should have in his system:
“Off the field things are the number one thing. He has to been a man of character. He has to be a tremendous leader. He’s got to work tremendously hard. Those are the things. Second thing, he has to be a good decision-maker. These are football aspects now. He has to be a good decision-maker. He has to be accurate with the football. Those are the two top priorities. That’s what we’ll instill in these guys, the three guys that are here. From a recruiting standpoint from here on out, those are the top priorities to look for.”
While Mark Stoops isn’t content with just having Kentucky positioned well with 2014 recruits. The Kentucky coach also wants the nation’s best 2015 recruits to know he’s paying attention.
Kentucky has offered Mount Dora, Fla., cornerback Von Davis, a sophomore, a scholarship. It was the first offer for the 6-0, 175-pound Davis but won’t be his last as Florida, Florida State, Louisville and South Carolina are just some of the schools also interested in Davis.
“It was a huge surprise to get the Kentucky offer,” said Davis. “To have my first offer from a SEC school, I was shocked. I don’t really know much about Kentucky football. I’ve seen them play on TV. I’ve actually watched their basketball team and stuff more. I don’t know that much yet about the football, but I will.”
Davis started both ways as a freshman last season. He caught 29 passes for 630 yards and five touchdowns and had 35 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. He runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash and also starts on the basketball team.
“I played receiver, quarterback, defensive back. Kentucky likes me at cornerback,” Davis said. “I’ve heard how Mark Stoops is going to improve Kentucky. It will always mean a lot to me that Kentucky was my first offer. I will always have them right there. They are the first to offer. Without them, other schools might not even be looking at me.
“I hope for more offers. I will just sit back now and see what happens. I am pretty sure other offers will come now that I have one SEC offer.”
Davis said Kentucky coaches plan to visit soon to watch him during spring practice, and he expects that to only add to the excitement about his offer.
“A lot of people have given me shout-outs on Facebook and Twitter. My family is pretty excited, but they told me not to settle just for one offer. They want to make sure I keep working,” Davis said.
Davis knows playing two sports is fun in high school, but he knows Kentucky basketball is a whole different level.
“I am pretty good in basketball, but not good enough for Kentucky basketball,” Davis laughed and said. “I know a lot about Kentucky basketball. That is my favorite team. The organization is always winning under (John) Calipari and he gets top recruits every year and has the best SEC team.”
|Oct. 18||Big Blue Madness||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Oct. 28||Blue-White Game||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 1||Transylvania||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 4||Montevallo||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 8||UNC-Asheville||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 10||Northern Kentucky||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 12||vs. Michigan State 1||United Center (Chicago)|
|Nov. 17||Robert Morris 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 19||Texas-Arlington 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 25||Cleveland State 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Nov. 27||Eastern Michigan 2||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Dec. 1||vs. Providence 3||Barclays Center (Brooklyn, N.Y.)|
|Dec. 6||vs. Baylor 4||Cowboys Stadium (Arlington, Texas.)|
|Dec. 10||Boise State||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Dec. 14||at North Carolina||Dean Smith Center (Chapel Hill, N.C.)|
|Dec. 21||Belmont||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
|Dec. 28||Louisville||Rupp Arena (Lexington, Ky.)|
Home games are in BOLD
Exhibition games are in ITALICS
Kentucky has announced its 2013-14 men’s basketball non-conference schedule. The schedule features a season-opening game in Rupp Arena against UNC-Asheville on Nov. 8 followed by a home date on Nov. 10 against Northern Kentucky. It marks the first time since the 2009-10 season the Wildcats open at home with multiple games.
For the third straight year, Kentucky participates in the State Farm Champions Classic, taking on Michigan State on Nov. 12 in Chicago.
UK will return home for four straight games as a part of the Keightley Classic beginning on Nov. 17 with Robert Morris. The rest of the tournament – named in honor of Bill Keightley, the former equipment manager known as “Mr. Wildcat” – includes games against Texas-Arlington (Nov. 19), Cleveland State (Nov. 25) and Eastern Michigan (Nov. 27), who is co-hosting the tournament.
Kentucky will ring in December with a pair of neutral-site games, including a Dec. 1 matchup with Providence in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., and a Dec. 6 date in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas against Baylor. The game against Baylor will be part of a doubleheader featuring both the men’s and women’s teams against the Baylor Bears.
The Wildcats return to Rupp Arena on Dec. 10 to host Boise State before renewing the annual rivalry with North Carolina on Dec. 14 in Chapel Hill, N.C.
UK closes out the 2013 calendar year in Rupp Arena with a Dec. 21 date against Belmont before hosting the annual Louisville game on Dec. 28.
Beginning in January, the Wildcats will face an 18-game Southeastern Conference schedule with nine home games and nine road games. The conference schedule will be announced at a later date.
Prior to regular-season action, Kentucky hosts a pair of exhibition games. The first will be Nov. 1 against in-town rival Transylvania for the third straight year followed by a matchup against Montevallo on Nov. 4.
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke says the NCAA did not find any wrongdoing after looking into a jewelry purchase of nearly $100,000 by a basketball player on the Blue Devils’ most recent national championship team. The school issued a statement Tuesday saying the NCAA and the university found no evidence of a rules violation based on the information available. It added that Duke and the NCAA “consider the matter closed.”
Former player Lance Thomas was sued in a Texas court for failing to pay a balance of nearly $68,000 for jewelry he purchased from a New York jeweler in December 2009 — 3 1/2 months before the Blue Devils won their fourth national title. Thomas was the starting power forward on that team.
The lawsuit was filed in January 2012 and was settled under confidential terms in September, roughly 1 1/2 weeks after its existence was made public. It was filed in Austin, Texas, because Thomas — who went undrafted after his Duke career ended in 2010 — was playing for the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League at the time.
According to the lawsuit, Thomas purchased $97,800 worth of jewelry from Rafaello & Co., which also does business as A+A Diamonds Ltd. An invoice dated Dec. 21, 2009, indicated that Thomas made a $30,000 down payment and agreed to pay the balance in 15 days.
By LARRY VAUGHT
Nerlens Noel talked about a variety of things Tuesday during what was likely his last interview at Kentucky but the first answer says a lot about what everyone should remember about his limited time with the Wildcats.
Question: Does he have any regrets about the play he was injured on since UK was behind and he could have just let the player score?
Noel: “No way. We wasn’t down too much. Regardless of the score,I wasn’t going to let him get that easy basket. That’s just who I am. I will not be embarrassed in any type of way. I will not give them an easy basket. I just wanted to keep fighting and give my team the best chance of getting back in fighting position to win that game.”
Question: How much attention does he play to NBA mock drafts?
Noel: “I don’t really pay attention to those at all. I just stay focused on my physical therapy, stay focused and keep my mind right.”
Question: What would it mean to be drafted No. 1?
Noel: “It would be a dream come true being the first pick in the NBA Draft. That’s something you dream about from when you’re a kid. I’d be very blessed to be in that position and just very appreciative of it.”
Question: Did he worry he might not be able to be No. 1 after his injury?
Noel: “A lot goes through your head. When it first happens, you don’t know what the injury is, you don’t know if you’ll ever play basketball again or if you’ll be playing a month from now. When I heard what the injury was, I knew no matter what I’d get back on the court as fast as I could and just get back to what I love doing.”
Question: What has he heard about his draft status?
Noel: “I don’t hear anything. That isn’t a priority, to just listen to what they say. I’m my own player, and I’ve just got to work on getting better and getting stronger, getting my leg stronger, and get right back on that court.”
Question: How difficult was it to watch UK after he was hurt?
Noel: “It was real tough, just watching them guys play and just knowing I could help them in so many ways. But I’m proud of them guys. They played as hard as they could. They fought, they beat two of the best teams in the league without me, so, I mean, you can’t underestimate those guys. They played hard. Things just didn’t roll their way sometimes on the road. I love them guys. They played their hearts out, so I’ll always be proud of them, no matter what.”
Question: What did the injury teach him about how quickly life can change?
Noel: “You’ve got to go out there an play hard every day. You can’t take it for granted. You’ve got to cherish the game you love and play. I felt like that’s what I did, but things like this happen. You’re a human being, you’re going to get hurt sometimes. You’ve just got to stay focused and be ready to just fight and get back doing what you love.”
Question: What time frame has he been given about when he can get on the court again?
Noel: “They’re just taking it step-by-step. It’s a six-to-eight month injury. I got surgery six weeks ago, so it will probably be around Christmas time or something. You never know. It’s a long healing process. I’m just staying focused and just doing my rehab until I can.”
Question: Did spending a year in college help him?
Noel: “It benefitted me a lot, especially playing here under coach Calipari and the coaching staff. There’s no pushovers here. They want you to be the best you can be and they don’t accept nothing less. Coach Cal has taught me so much on and off the court, how to be a good person and just really know how to have a good work ethic. He made us love to work and (taught use how to) carry yourself. Just a lot of life lessons that not any regular coach would teach you about off the court.”
Question: Does he wish the system was different and he could spend more time in college?
Noel: “Nah. I loved this year, though. This was one of the best experiences of my life being here at Kentucky this year. Regardless if you have to stay three, four years, these are the best times of your life, whether it’s one or four years, regardless.”
Question: Should players be able to go pro out of high school rather than risk an injury like the one he had?
Noel: It’s a lot of politics. I don’t really get into that. Both sides have a reasonable reason for it, why they would want to go out of high school or why they should do a year of college or two. But I don’t get into that too much. I just do what I got to do, what I have to do. I have to come to school for a year, I’m going to do it.”
Question: Does he worry about not being ready for the start of next season?
Noel: “I’m taking strides. If I’m not ready, I’m not ready. If I’m ready, I’m ready. The main focus right now is just keep working so I can be ready when my physical therapist tells me I am. You just take it one step at a time. Today is the six-week point (after his surgery). I’m doing everything out of the brace now, all my exercises. That says I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve got a lot of muscle back into my leg. But it takes a while for the graft to heal and get in tune with the body and the nerve system. But I’m taking it slow. I’m doing a lot of strength exercises and mobility.”
Question: Since he’s injured, what will the pre-draft process be like for him?
Noel: “The combine was on TV last year, so I’ve seen it. I’ve seen what the actual players will do. But going in with an injury like I have, I’m not sure I’ll be able to do too much besides get checked out by the doctors, maybe shoot some free throws, talk to GMs (general managers) and what not. But besides that, I don’t think I’ll be doing too much.”
By ASHLEY SCOBY
Kelly Melton, a 7-year-old who is a huge Kentucky football fan, was diagnosed with leukemia on November 8, 2012. Since then, many of the UK football players have taken time to visit Kelly at the UK Children’s Hospital where he receives treatment. New coach Mark Stoops also visited recently, stopping by to play Legos with Kelly. Much of the Lexington community has banded together in support of Kelly - many wear blue wristbands that say “Kickin it 4 Kelly” to show their support for his fight.
At the spring game on Saturday, Kelly was given the privilege of greeting the players at the end of the Cat Walk, going into the locker room and getting sideline passes to the game. He even got the game ball after the game. Although Kelly has been receiving regular chemotherapy treatments, his excitement for UK football was by no means lessened. Here is Kelly talking about the special day he had at Commonwealth Stadium.
If you are interested in supporting Kelly, you can like “Kickin it 4 Kelly” on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Kickinit4Kelly or you can follow on Twitter at @Kickinit4Kelly for more information, as well as updates on Kelly’s hard-fought battle with cancer.