NCAA roundup: WKU, UofL win; UK loses; Murray St., EKU, Morehead St. teams swept in double-headers

College Baseball

Stewart Ijames and Ryan Wright look on from the UofL dugout; BluGrass Baseball photo

Stats and recaps from Saturday Kentucky college baseball:

  • Western Kentucky University used a seven-run seventh inning to rally for an 8-5 win over Louisiana-Monroe in game two of a three-game series. Freshman right-handed pitcher Justin Hageman earned his seventh win of the season after surrendering four runs on seven hits in seven innings while striking out six batters and walking four. Junior right fielder Ryan Hutchinson was 2-5 with one home run, three RBI and one run scored. Sophomore first baseman Ryan Huck was 2-4 with one double and two runs scored. Redshirt senior right-handed pitcher Brian Edelen, the Hilltoppers’ usual Sunday starter, recorded the final four outs of the game for his first save. (Box Score)
  • Two different University of Louisville batters slugged grand slams in an 11-3 win over Georgetown in game two of a three-game series. Redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung improved to 8-0 on the season after surrendering three runs on six hits in seven innings while striking out seven batters and walking one. Redshirt junior right fielder Stewart Ijames was 3-5 with one home run, five RBI and one run scored. Junior infielder Ryan Wright slugged a grand slam, drove in five runs and scored twice. Sophomore left fielder Kyle Grieshaber was 2-2 with one walk and three runs scored. (Box Score)
  • The University of Kentucky continued its downward slide in Southeastern Conference play with an 8-4 loss to LSU, that completed the three-game sweep by the Tigers. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers took the loss after surrendering five runs on four hits in three and two-third innings while striking out two batters and walking three. Redshirt senior right fielder Neiko Johnson was 3-4 with two RBI and two runs scored. Sophomore catcher Luke Maile was 2-4 with two RBI. (Box Score)
  • Murray State University could not finish a late rally in a 5-4 loss to Southeast Missouri in game one of a double-header. Junior right-handed pitcher Tyler Beers took the loss after surrendering four runs on nine hits in eight innings while striking out six batters and walking four. Sophomore shortstop Brandon Elliott was 2-4 with one home run, two RBI and one run scored and was the only Murray St. batter with multiple hits in the game. (Box Score)
  • Southeast Missouri scored 11 runs in the fourth inning in game two of the double-header to send Murray St. to a 17-7 loss. Senior right-handed pitcher Jake Donze took the loss after surrendering six runs on six hits in two and one-third innings while striking out two batters and walking three. Junior second baseman Travis Isaak was 2-4 with two RBI and one run scored, and freshman left fielder Ty Stetson was 1-3 with three RBI and two runs scored. (Box Score)
  • Eastern Kentucky University tallied 10 hits but still dropped a 10-3 decision in game one of a double-header versus Tennessee Tech. Senior right-handed pitcher Chris Hord took the loss in his first start of the season after surrendering five runs on five hits in three innings while striking out one batter and walking four. Freshman third baseman Bryan Soloman and junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez each had two hits in the game. (Box Score)
  • In game two of the double-header EKU never overcame a five-run first inning by Tennessee Tech in a 10-4 loss. Freshman left-handed pitcher Kyle McGrath took the loss after surrendering five runs on three hits in one inning. No EKU batter tallied multiple hits in the game, but Soloman and junior right fielder Michael Garcia each slugged home runs in the game. (Box Score)
  • Daviess County High School alum Jeremy Dobbs earned his eighth win of the season for Austin Peay in a 7-3 win over Morehead State University. Dobbs improved to 8-2 on the season after surrendering three runs on seven hits in seven innings while striking out six batters and walking six. Morehead St. junior designated hitter Eric Bainer was 2-5 with one run scored. Senior right-handed pitcher Trey Smith took the loss after surrendering seven runs on 12 hits in four and two-third innings. (Box Score)
  • In game two of the double-header Morehead St. blew a 9-0 lead after three innings in a 12-10 loss to Austin Peay. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cody Gibson took the loss after surrendering two runs on two hits in two innings. Junior catcher Taylor Davis was 3-4 with one RBI, two runs scored and two walks, and senior first baseman Michael Fear was 2-5 with four RBI. Senior left fielder Daniel Pugh was 3-4 with three runs scored. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: RF Stewart Ijames (UofL)
  • Stats: 3-5, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 R
  • Honorable Mention: Ryan Hutchinson (WKU), Ryan Huck (WKU), Kyle Grieshaber (UofL), Ryan Wright (UofL), Neiko Johnson (UK), Brandon Elliott (Murray St.), Bryan Soloman (EKU), Eric Bainer (Morehead St.), Daniel Pugh (Morehead St.)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Justin Amlung (UofL)
  • Stats: 1-0, 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Justin Hageman (WKU), Tyler Beers (Murray St.), Jeremy Dobbs (Austin Peay, Daviess Co. HS), Josh Schneider (Morehead St.)
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NCAA roundup: UofL rallies for late win; WKU, UK lose

College Baseball

Stewart Ijames and Ryan Wright look on from the UofL dugout; BluGrass Baseball photo

Recaps and highlights from Friday Kentucky college baseball action:

  • Western Kentucky University held a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning but surrendered single runs over the final three frames, culminated by a walk-off home run in the ninth inning, give Louisiana Monroe a 5-4 win in game one of a three-game series. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Ross Hammonds took the loss after surrendering two runs on two hits in one and one-third innings. Junior right fielder Ryan Hutchinson was 2-4 with one RBI, one run scored and one walk. The Hilltoppers wasted a quality start from sophomore left-handed pitcher Tanner Perkins, who surrendered three runs on nine hits in seven innings while striking out seven batters and walking one. (Box Score)
  • The University of Louisville rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn a 3-2 win over Georgetown. Redshirt junior right fielder Stewart Ijames and senior catcher J. J. Ethel tallied RBI in the eighth inning rally, and junior second baseman Ryan Wright was 2-3 with one RBI, one run scored an one walk. Freshman right-handed pitcher Cody Edge was credited with the win after recording the final out in the top of the eighth inning, but junior right-handed pitcher Derek Self pitched well in his second start. Self surrendered two runs, one of which was earned, on five hits in seven and two-third innings while striking out four batters and walking none. Junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his 11th save. (Box Score)
  • The University of Kentucky like saw any remaining post season hopes dashed with a series-clinching 12-4 win by LSU in game two of the three-game series. Freshman left-handed pitcher Corey Littrell took the loss after surrendering five runs, two of which were earned, on four hits in one and two-third innings. The Cats surrendered five unearned runs in the game and committed four errors. Junior left-fielder Chad Wright was the only UK batter with multiple hits in the game, finishing 2-3 with one RBI, one run scored and one walk. Redshirt senior utility man Neiko Johnson tallied his first hit since returning from injury with a two-run double in the ninth inning. (Box Score)
Hitter of the day: LF Chad Wright
  • Stats: 2-3, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
  • Honorable Mention: Ryan Hutchinson (WKU), Matt Rice (WKU), Ryan Wright (UofL)
Pitcher of the day: RHP Derek Self (UofL)
  • Stats: 7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Tanner Perkins (WKU)

Former Mr. Kentucky Baseball carries UK to SEC series win

College Baseball

J. T. Riddle; UK photo by Chet White

A year ago this week University of Kentucky freshman J. T. Riddle was beginning his senior season at Western Hills High School, now he’s leading the Cats in batting while playing a new position.

Riddle led the Cats to a series win in its first Southeastern Conference series of the season versus Tennessee this weekend with five hits, one home run and five RBI. On Friday and Sunday Riddle made diving catches in right field to save extra base hits.

“J. T. Riddle is doing a lot for us right now,” UK head coach Gary Henderson said after UK’s 7-3 win Sunday. “J. T. is catching doubles and triples in right field. He’s knocking in runs.”

Through 20 games Riddle leads the Cats with a .381 batting average. On Sunday he slugged his first collegiate home run.

Riddle’s hot start to his collegiate career has even surprised him.

“I definitely didn’t expect to be where I’m at right now,” Riddle said of his .381 batting average. “I just wanted to come in and play baseball like I always have.”

Riddle has driven in 10 runs this season, scored eight times and stolen four bases all while playing right field for the first time in his life.

“He’s bringing energy to the club,” Henderson said. “He’s fun to watch, He’s inspiring his teammates.”

Riddle was named Mr. Kentucky baseball following his senior season at Western Hills and was drafted in the 35th round of the 2010 draft by the Boston Red Sox. When he arrived at UK he was expected to play shortstop and second base while occasionally pitching. What he wasn’t expected to do was become UK’s every day right fielder and play stellar defense.

“Baseball is baseball,” Riddle said. “Playing outfield is basically catch and throw it where it needs to be thrown.”

When UK lost its first two right fielders on the depth chart, redshirt senior Neiko Johnson and freshman Lucas Witt, to injury, Henderson turned to Riddle out of necessity.

“It hasn’t been bad at all,” Riddle said of the adjustment to playing outfield. “The first game I think I started I came out and made a couple of nice plays. After that I had the confidence to know I can do it.”

At UK’s preseason media day Henderson said Riddle was forcing his way into the lineup by hitting line drives throughout fall practice. Now 20 games into the season Riddle has not only hit his way into the lineup, he may be the team’s most valuable player.

UK leadoff man to miss 4-6 weeks with broken finger; Phillies GM: Blanton staying put; Strieby to see time early in spring

College Baseball, Major League Baseball

Neiko Johnson; UK Athletics photo

Latest links from around Kentucky baseball:

  • The University of Kentucky announced before Wednesday’s game that redshirt senior outfielder and second baseman Neiko Johnson will miss four to six weeks with a broken finger. Johnson injured the finger in Tuesday’s game versus Morehead St. while sliding into second base.
  • Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports while the Cardinals may be in the market for a new staring pitcher, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. reaffirmed his previous position that former UK right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton will be with the Phillies to begin the season and start on April 7.
  • In its latest NCAA tournament projections College Baseball Daily has the University of Louisville as a No. 1 seed and no other Kentucky teams in the field.
  • Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports Ashland native and former UK right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb felt normal after his second straight day of long-toss. Webb told Durrett “I think that’s big. I’m recovering and throwing long distances. The plan is to keep going that.”
  • Durrett notes the Rangers’ plan is for Webb to have two more days of strenuous long-toss on Thursday and Friday with a slight break on Saturday.
  • Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland told Dana Wakiji of Fox Sports Detroit that former UK first baseman Ryan Strieby stands to earn more playing time at first base early in Spring Training while Tigers all-star Miguel Cabrera is on leave following a DUI arrest.

BluGrass Baseball Hitting Leaderboard: February 21

College Baseball

The college statistical leaderboard is pretty useless this early in the season, but it at least offers a glimpse at what players had the best opening weekends. With that in mind check out the first in-season edition of the 2011 leaderboard. We’ll look at batting statistics today, remembering that players must have 2.5 at-bats per team game to be eligible.

Batting Average

  • Richie Rodriguez — EKU — .692 (9-13)
  • Matt Rice — WKU — .538 (7-13)
  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — .500 (7-14)
  • Drew Haynes — UofL — .500 (4-8)
  • Ryan Hutchinson — WKU — .417 (5-12)

Home Runs

  • Braden Kapteyn — UK — 1
  • Jacob Daniel — EKU — 1
  • Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — 1
  • Zach Noonan — Murray St. — 1

RBI

  • Matt Rice — WKU — 7
  • Jacob Daniel — EKU — 6
  • Ryan Hutchinson — WKU — 5
  • Logan Robbins — WKU — 5
  • Travis Isaak — Murray St. — 5

Runs

  • Ryan Hutchinson — WKU — 5
  • Kes Carter — WKU — 5
  • Braden Kapteyn — UK — 4
  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — 4
  • Logan Robbins — WKU — 4

Stolen Bases

  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — 2/2
  • Richie Rodriguez — EKU — 2/2
  • Chad Wright — UK — 2/2
  • Logan Robbins — WKU — 1/1
  • Matt Bracken — WKU — 1/1
  • Ty Young — UofL — 1/1
  • Thomas McCarthy — UK — 1/1
  • Neiko Johnson — UK — 1/1

On-Base Percentage

  • Richie Rodriguez — EKU — .714
  • Drew Haynes — UofL — .600
  • Matt Rice — WKU — .563
  • Zach Noonan — Murray St. — .545
  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — .529

Slugging Percentage

  • Ryan Hutchinson — WKU — .750
  • Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — .667
  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — .643
  • Ryan Huck — WKU — .625
  • Drew Haynes — UofL — .625

Opening Weekend Review: University of Kentucky

College Baseball

In our first two weekend review posts there was little wrong with UofL’s or WKU’s opening weekend performance. That trend stops now as each of the other four Kentucky teams combined to go 0-12 on the weekend. In the third post we will look at the University of Kentucky.

  • Freshmen struggle: UK head coach Gary Henderson is always quick to downplay the expectations for freshmen playing in the Southeastern Conference, but even he had to admit the Cats would need contributions from youngsters this season. It was probably too much to ask for freshmen to carry UK during their first collegiate series, but the Cats had to hope for a little more than they got this weekend. At the plate three freshmen hitters, J. T. Riddle, Matt Reida and Lucas Witt, combined to go 1-13 with seven strikeouts. On the mound two freshmen relievers, Corey Littrell and Trevor Gott, combined to go 0-2 after surrendering nine runs in four and one-third innings. On the bright side, four of those nine runs were unearned.
  • Defense comes up short for Cats: At preseason media day Henderson said the Cats’ season would depend on pitching and defense, but after the first series of the year he can’t be happy with the Cats’ defensive effort. On Saturday Marshall scored four unearned runs in the eighth inning to break open what was a 2-2 tie after a throwing error by second baseman Neiko Johnson. On Sunday Miami (Ohio) scored the go-ahead run after junior catcher Michael Williams dropped what would have been an outfield assist gunning down the go-ahead run at home plate. On the weekend UK recorded four errors, but two of them came at crucial times. The defensive lapses on Saturday and Sunday wasted two superb starts from Alex Meyer and Taylor Rogers. Meyer and Rogers combined for 20 strikeouts in 13 innings.
  • Revolving door at second base: In three games Henderson started three different players at second base: freshmen Reida and Riddle and redshirt senior Johnson. The three batters combined to go 1-9 during their time at second base. At media day Henderson said he would focus on the best defensive option at the position, so he couldn’t have been happy that both Reida and Johnson committed errors while at second base. The problems at second base could have been overlooked if UK had found any offense elsewhere. The Cats batted .181 on the weekend.

Saturday NCAA Roundup: UofL, WKU win; EKU suspended

College Baseball

Justin Amlung; UofL photo

Recaps from day two of the Kentucky college baseball season:

  • University of Louisville redshirt sophomore right-handed pitcher Justin Amlung was nearly unhittable in leading the Cards to a 2-0 win over Ohio State in game two of the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. Amlung allowed just four hits in seven and two-third shutout innings while striking out four and walking one to earn the win. Junior right-handed pitcher Tony Zych allowed the potential tying run to reach base in the ninth but finished the game without allowing a run to record his second save in two games. Junior second baseman Ryan Wright and sophomore third baseman Cade Stallings tallied the two RBI for UofL in the game. (Box Score)
  • Bowling Green St. intentionally walked two batters to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Western Kentucky University senior catcher Matt Rice made them pay with a game-winning RBI single in the Hilltoppers’ 8-7 win. The Hilltoppers led 7-5 entering the ninth inning but redshirt junior closer Rye Davis surrendered two runs in a blown save. Junior left fielder Jared Andreoli led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. BGSU then intentionally walked junior outfielders Kes Carter and Ryan Hutchinson, setting up the Rice game-winning hit. Hutchinson was 2-3 with one RBI and two runs scored in the game, and Andreoli tallied three hits in four at-bats. (Box Score)
  • The University of Kentucky surrendered four unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after a throwing error from redshirt senior second baseman Neiko Johnson prolonged the inning in a 6-4 loss to Marshall. The loss dropped UK to 0-2 for the first time since 1999. Freshman right-handed pitcher Trevor Gott took the loss after surrendering four unearned runs in two innings. UK scored twice and brought the tying run to the plate with no outs in the top of the ninth inning but the rally fell just short. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Rogers pitched will in his first start of the season, surrendering two runs on seven hits in seven innings while striking out seven and walking none. Junior first baseman Braden Kapteyn was 2-4 with two runs scored in the game. (Box Score)
  • Eastern Kentucky University‘s game with Pepperdine was postponed due to inclement weather with the Colonels up 8-7 and a man on third base with one out in the ninth inning. EKU junior shortstop Richie Rodriguez was 4-4 with two RBI and a run scored, and junior designated hitter Jacob Daniel was 1-2 with a home run, four RBI and one run scored. EKU senior closer Ryne Purcell was on the mound when the game was postponed. The game will be resumed at 2 p.m. on Sunday. (Live Stats)
  • Murray State University never overcame a five-run first inning from UNC Asheville in a 15-5 loss in game two of a three-game series. Junior-college transfer and Murray St. starting pitcher Luke Shuemaker settled down after the first inning but still took the loss after surrendering five runs on nine hits in four innings pitched. At the plate the Breds were led by senior left fielder Drew Pixley, who was 2-4 with a run scored. (Box Score)
  • Nothing went right for Morehead State University in its second game of the 2011 season as the Eagles tallied just five hits and were blown out 18-0 after an abysmal pitching performance. Redshirt junior right-handed pitcher Josh Schneider took the loss after surrendering six runs on six hits in three innings pitched. Freshman left-handed pitcher Noah Smallwood struggled in his collegiate debut, giving up six runs on six hits in just one inning of work. One of the few bright spots for the Eagles came from freshman left-handed pitcher Brice Smallwood, who struck out the side in a scoreless inning in his collegiate debut. (Box Score)

Hitter of the day: Richie Rodriguez (EKU)

  • Stats: 4-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 BB
  • Honorable Mention: Jacob Daniel (EKU), Jared Andreoli (WKU), Ryan Hutchinson (WKU), Ryan Huck (WKU), Braden Kapteyn (UK), Drew Pixley (Murray St.)

Pitcher of the day: Justin Amlung (UofL)

  • Stats: 1-0, 7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
  • Honorable Mention: Taylor Rogers (UK), Matt Harris (EKU), Brice Smallwood (Morehead St.), Ross Hammonds (WKU)

BluGrass Baseball Preseason Hitting Leaderboard

College Baseball

Throughout the college baseball season BluGrass Baseball publishes a weekly statistics leaderboard for Kentucky collegians. As part of the 2011 college baseball preview we’ll begin the weekly leaderboard series with a look at the top five returning players in each 2010 statistical category. To be eligible for the percentage categories (batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage) a player must have at least 2.5 at-bats per team game.

Batting Categories

Batting Average

  • Matt Rice — WKU — .369
  • Ryan Wright — UofL — .366
  • Richie Rodriguez — EKU — .357
  • Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — .350
  • Brandon Elliott — Murray St. — .347

Home Runs

  • Ryan Wright — UofL — 16
  • Cameron Flynn — UK — 15 *
  • Stewart Ijames — UofL — 14
  • Andrew Deeds — Morehead St. — 13
  • Ryan Faidley — EKU — 12
  • Taylor Black — UK — 11
  • Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — 11

RBI

  • Ryan Wright — UofL — 80
  • Matt Rice — WKU — 65
  • Stewart Ijames — UofL — 63
  • Taylor Davis — Morehead St. — 57
  • Kes Carter — WKU — 53

Runs

  • Ryan Wright — UofL — 61
  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — 61
  • Richie Rodriguez — EKU — 55
  • Zach Noonan — Murray St. — 52
  • Matt Rice — WKU — 51

Stolen Bases

  • Neiko Johnson — UK — 24/25
  • Richie Rodriguez — EKU — 21/28
  • Logan Robbins — WKU — 18/20
  • Drew Haynes — UofL — 15/22
  • Kes Carter — WKU — 14/17
  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — 14/20

On-Base Percentage

  • Michael Fear — Morehead St. — .439
  • Daniel Pugh — Morehead St. — .438
  • Ryan Faidley — EKU — .420
  • Kes Carter — WKU — .418
  • Jared Andreoli — WKU — .415

Slugging Percentage

  • Cameron Flynn — UK — .658 *
  • Ryan Wright — UofL — .638
  • Ryan Faidley — EKU — .605
  • Andrew Deeds — Morehead St. — .603
  • Matt Rice — WKU — .585
  • Stewart Ijames — UofL — .570

* — Cameron Flynn will sit out the 2011 season as a transfer from Morehead St. to UK.

2011 Lineup projections: University of Kentucky

College Baseball

UK Athletics Wallpaper

Following the completion of the “offseason position battle” series we will post a lineup project for each of the five division one schools this week. The lineups are based on the position battle posts and are my projection with a little background research of what the Opening Day lineup might look like. Note that while some positions were not included in the offseason battle series because they had an incumbent starter those starters can still change. We will also include weekend rotations, midweek starters and closers for good measure. In the next-to-last projection we will look at the University of Kentucky.

Lineup

  • C — Luke Maile
  • 1B — Michael Williams
  • 2B — Matt Reida
  • 3B — Thomas McCarthy
  • SS — Taylor Black
  • LF — Chad Wright
  • CF — Brian Adams
  • RF — Neiko Johnson
  • DH — Braden Kapteyn

Weekend rotation

  • RHP Jordan Cooper
  • LHP Taylor Black
  • RHP Alex Meyer

Midweek starting pitchers

  • LHP Corey Littrell
  • RHP Tyler Dunaway

Closer

  • RHP Braden Kapteyn

*Note that both Maile and Williams will catch for UK, with the one who isn’t catching in a given game seeing time at first base. Kapteyn is probably UK’s best defensive first baseman, but by starting him at designated hitter head coach Gary Henderson gains the flexibility of warming Kapteyn up in the bullpen while the Cats play defense.

Offseason position battle: UK second baseman

College Baseball

Chris Bisson; Photo: UK Athletics

We will begin the third lap in the “offseason position battle” series with a look at the vacant University of Kentucky second base position:

The departed — Second baseman Chris Bisson, a 2010 junior, was a stalwart in the middle of the UK defense and lineup during 2010, batting .329 with five home runs, 35 RBI and 43 runs scored. Bisson, who moved on to professional ball following the season as the fourth-round pick of the San Diego Padres, batted .325 in his three-year UK career with seven home runs, 91 RBI and 101 runs scored. Bisson led the Southeastern Conference with 32 stolen bases in 2010 and was honored with a second-team all-SEC selection following the season. The left-handed batter missed five games after being hit in the face by a pitch during a game versus Monmouth on March 6.

Returning candidates — Redshirt senior infielder Neiko Johnson started 21 games for UK in 2010 and filled in for Bisson at second base while he recovered from the early season hit-by-pitch. Johnson batted just .171 in 33 games but boasted an impressive .388 on-base percentage and stole 24 bases in 25 attempts. This summer Johnson batted .307 with 25 stolen bases in the Coastal Plains League…Redshirt freshman Tyler Townsend, who sat out during the 2010 season, is the only other returning backup infielder on the roster. Townsend batted .220 in 36 games in the New York Collegiate Baseball League this summer.

Newcomers to watch — In a recent interview with College Baseball Daily UK head coach Gary Henderson listed freshman infielders Dallen Reber, Paul McConkey, J. T. Riddle and Matt Reida as standouts during fall practice. Riddle and Reida profile best as middle infielders and should push for early playing time at second base. Henderson told CBD that Reida was the most advanced of the group defensively, so that praise can only help his chances. When Reida signed with UK, Henderson described him as a future stalwart at middle infield and the leadoff spot in the lineup. The Chicago White Sox selected Reida in the 47th round of the 2010 draft…Riddle was named Mr. Kentucky Baseball in 2010 after batting .514 with 7 HR, 62 RBI and 20 stolen bases as a senior at Western Hills High school. He was the 35th round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2010. Riddle homered during UK’s Fall World Series and could pitch for UK as well.

Wildcard — UK’s lone returning starting infielder is shortstop Taylor Black, the 28th round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2010 draft, so the second, third and first base positions could be a revolving door in 2011. The Cats aren’t lacking candidates for the vacant second and third base positions, but Henderson could decide not to name a full-time starter at either position early in the season and instead choose to rotate several of the players. Ideally UK would have a fairly consistent lineup in time for conference play, but don’t be surprised in Johnson, Reida, Riddle, Reber, McConkey and Townsend rotate early in 2011.