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Kentucky Baseball Season Update and Louisville Game Thread

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The first half of conference play is over. With a little over a month remaining in the season overall, the Bat Cats are right in the thick of the SEC race and well-positioned for a return to the College World Series.

Polls and Ratings

Ratings
Polls
RPI 23 D1 Baseball 19
Boyd's World 35 Baseball America 19
Massey 30 Perfect Game 25
Warren Nolan 47 Coaches 27

Kentucky has had a good season and it's been recognized appropriately.  They dropped a bit in the polls after losing an extremely close series to Vandy, but that's what happens when you aren't a traditional power.  Overall the humans like the team a bit more than do the computers, but taken as a whole this is a pretty fair representation of what the team has accomplished thus far.

SEC Play

East W – L Runs Runs Allowed Run Differential
Florida 11 — 4 103 66 37
South Carolina 11 – 4 83 68 15
Vanderbilt 9 – 6 81 67 14
Kentucky 9 – 6 79 67 12
Georgia 6 – 9 77 102 -25
Tennessee 4 – 11 78 90 -12
Missouri 4 – 11 74 102 -28

West W – L Runs Runs Allowed Run Differential
Texas A&M 10 – 5 115 73 42
LSU 9 – 6 92 72 20
Mississippi St 8 – 7 75 85 -10
Alabama 8 – 7 66 64 2
Mississippi 7 – 8 70 74 -4
Auburn 5 – 10 83 108 -25
Arkansas 4 – 11 78 116 -38

There's a pretty clear pecking order in the SEC: Florida and TAMU at the top, followed by a group including SC, Georgia, UK, and LSU, followed by everyone else.  By record, South Carolina is tied with Florida, but the run differential shows that Florida's underlying performance has been much better.

That Kentucky is in that second group - both in terms of record and performance - is a testament to how good they've been this year.  With the weekend rotation rounding into form, there is potential for them to do much better over the next month - an exciting prospect!

Remaining Schedule

Remaining Conf Schedule Remaining Midweek Schedule W – L
Arkansas @Louisville 29 – 7
@Auburn Dayton 12 – 24
South Carolina Miami (OH) 19 – 16
@Mississippi @Indiana 20 – 14
Missouri EKU (?) 17 – 19

Speaking of going forward, one need only look at the SEC standings to see that the back half of UK's conference schedule is a fair bit easier than the front end.  South Carolina will be tough, but no more so than Florida or Vandy were.  On the road at Mississippi will also be a difficult series, but the Cats have shown the ability to win away from home in taking series from Tennessee and Georgia and playing Vanderbilt tough.  Arkansas, Auburn, and Missouri are all sweep-able.  I think the Cats go 10-5 at worst unless something really goes off the rails.

After Louisville today, the remaining midweek games aren't difficult.  The game against EKU last week was postponed and hasn't been rescheduled yet, it would not be a surprise if it stayed that way as playing the Colonels does absolutely nothing for UK.  Kentucky is safely in the field for the College World Series (see below) but a win over Louisville is important for any chance at hosting a regional.  UK's non-conference schedule this year has not exactly featured a plethora of quality opponents, and the Cats have thus far lost all of what few chances they had against good, non-SEC teams.

CWS Projections (as of April 13)

Seed Projections Seed Regional
D1 Baseball 2 Louisville, KY
Baseball America 2 Raleigh, NC

Kentucky has been a #2 seed in every projection thus far and that seems the most likely landing spot, at least in terms of seed.  What regional they find themselves in is still very much an open question.  Even if they aren't going to host, finishing strong will help keep them close to home and not shipped out west or too far south.

Hosting is still a possibility, but UK would need to finish strong: 20+ conference wins and a clean sweep of all their midweek games beginning with the Cardinals tonight.  It's not an impossible task, but it seems unlikely, especially since they would probably be competing with Louisville to host and the Cardinals' profile is stronger by a good bit.

The rematch with Louisville begins at 6:00 PM and can be viewed on ESPN3.com.  This will serve as the game thread for the contest.