In the second of out stretch drive breakdown posts we’ll look at Western Kentucky University. The Hilltoppers looked certain to gain at at-large NCAA tournament bid from the Sun Belt Conference a few weeks ago, but WKU has dropped three of its last four series to land squarely on the bubble. Both Rivals.com and Baseball America currently have WKU out of the NCAA tournament as the sixth-place Sun Belt team simply doesn’t deserve a bid.
At this point WKU needs series wins against Sun Belt second-place Louisiana Lafayette and fourth place Middle Tennessee over the final two weeks to have a shot at the NCAA tournament. Despite being in sixth place, WKU is only three games back of Sun Belt leader Florida Atlantic in the loss column and is No. 46 in the RPI so anything is possible. The guess here is the Hilltoppers need to finish in the top three of the Sun Belt to make the NCAA tournament.
(You can see the Rivals.com field of 64 projection here and the Baseball America stock report here.)
Wes Cunningham bats against UK: BluGrass Baseball photo
Murray State University first baseman Wes Cunningham and Western Kentucky University catcher Matt Rice were each named their respective conference players of the week for week five. Cunningham was honored by the Ohio Valley Conference and Rice was honored by the Sun Belt Conference. Rice batted ..538 with two home runs, 13 RBI and seven doubles on the week, and Cunningham batted .667 with four home runs, 12 RBI and 13 runs scored. You can also read WKU and Murray St.’s releases about the honors.
Kendall Rogers also recently released Yahoo! Sports preview of the Sun-Belt conference in which he picked Western Kentucky University to finish second in 2010. WKU won the Sun-Belt last season.
Catcher Matt Rice and starting pitcher Matt Ridings were named to the all-Sun Belt preseason squad. Rogers writes WKU is among the regional contenders in the league and should count on a strong offense. The rotation could improve vastly in 2010, Rogers writes, but Ridings and Shane Cameron must perform to expectations for WKU to make the tournament. (Read more)