On the heels of an important mid-week win over No. 15 Indiana, Kentucky hits the road for Missouri on Thursday to being a key three-game series against the new SEC members.
Kentucky (29-22, 10-17 SEC) needs at least one win over Missouri (16-30, 8-19 SEC) to ensure a spot in next week's 12-team SEC Tournament in Hoover, Ala. The stakes are much larger for the Wildcats' NCAA Tournament hopes, which likely rest upon UK taking at least two of the three games from the Tigers and perhaps a sweep in addition to at least one win in the SEC tourney.
The Wildcats will send their weekend rotation of sophomore left-hander A.J. Reed (2-7, 3.81 ERA), freshman right-hander Kyle Cody (3-3, 4.82 ERA) and junior lefty Corey Littrell (5-5, 3.92 ERA). Missouri will counter with sophomore righty Brett Graves (1-5, 3.95 ERA), junior right-hander Eric Anderson (0-3, 3.98 ERA) and a pitcher to be named later in Saturday's finale.
The UK bullpen has been a bright spot this season with senior Walter Wijas (2-0, 1.27 ERA) leading the staff with 26 appearances. Senior Trevor Gott (4-1, 1.24 ERA) has set a new school record for saves in a season with 12.
Kentucky's bats, which struggled during a mid-season slump with saw the Cats drop 10 of 11 games, have come to life in recent games. Freshman outfielder Kyle Barrett leads the club with a .351 average, which has been on a climb during his 15-game hitting streak. Reed is UK's big run producer, having collected eight doubles, 13 home runs and 51 RBI.
Missouri is coming off a series loss at Alabama last weekend, picking up a win in the middle game. The Tigers have struggled to get much offense going with a .248 team batting average, but Dane Opel is having a strong season with a .317 average, four doubles, four triples, three home runs and 27 RBI.
The Cats and Tigers will be meeting for just the second time in series history and the first since 1984. UK won the lone meeting, 11-4, at Cliff Hagan Stadium on March 19, 1984.
All three games will be broadcast live on the UK IMG Radio Network with Neil Price calling the action. Fans can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM in Central Kentucky, WKJK 1080-AM in Louisville and online at UKathletics.com.
Schedule (All times ET, subject to change.)
Thursday, May 16 * at Missouri * 7 p.m.
Friday, May 17 * at Missouri * 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 18 * at Missouri * 2 p.m.
Cats travel to Mizzou for key series
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