Cats 'Hunted,' Not 'Hunter' Anymore

UK Baseball and third-year coach John Cohen aren't used to the high expectations and lofty rankings that have accompanied his ballclub the past few weeks, but don't expect the program to change their approach.

"It doesn't change our approach," Cohen explained. "If it starts to change our approach a little big, as a coach you have to step in say, 'we need to get back to where we were.' Hopefully we'll continue on the same path and not worry about those things."

The Wildcats number 20 ranking is its highest ranking in the polls since March of 2000. Additionally, more than 1,700 fans showed up for Wednesday night's 15-4 victory over Morehead State and many prognosticators are predicting Cohen's club to take at least two of three this weekend against a struggling Auburn program.

"Hopefully our team will continue to take everything pitch-by-pitch and game-by-game," Cohen said. "The rankings are great for recruiting, our fans and our players. It's a reward."

The young 'BatCats' will have to rely on its experience at certain spots to overcome such overconfidence that generally accompanies an important weekend like the one ahead.

"I'm not worried about us getting over-confident," senior Shaun Lehmann said. "We've got a bunch of guys that know what it's been like to have a losing club. Last year, we had a lot of bad breaks and lost games at the end. It was very frustrating. I don't think any of us forget that."

"We won't be over-confident," junior second baseman John Shelby said. "We've got too many older guys that remember how tough it was a year ago."

After dropping a 12-7 weekday decision on the road against Troy, Auburn's record sits at 12-16 on the year and just 1-5 in the SEC.

"We know we're still going to have to put in a fight," Lehmann said. "We've got 14 guys that on most teams would play everyday, but we have to go with whoever is hitting the ball well. Sometimes that's me, sometime's it's not, but it makes every at-bat count, every game count. You cannot afford to not come in prepared against anyone, because, you simply won't play."

The Tigers are, however, a dangerous opponent at home this season, going 12 and 9 including a defeat of top 10 opponents Florida State and South Carolina.

"It's a tough place to play," Cohen said. "They're gonna have 3 to 4,000 people there behind them, so it's gonna be another challenge for our ballclub. We've just got to keep our composure and communicate."

In comparison, they have yet to win a game on the road, going 0-for-7.

"They play a lot of young, talented guys," Cohen said. "So far, it's been a long investment, but you know sooner or later those guys are going to get better and the investment will pay dividends. You saw that with some of our young guys last year."

Cohen hopes the 'Cats can gain some momentum for next week's home series against Florida, a 3-game meet that the third-year coach hopes UK fans will make an effort to attend.

"I'd like to think that at least we can get 2,000 or so fans to the ballpark against Florida," Cohen said in talking about Auburn's home field attendance. "After what these kids have done this year and the hard-work they've put in and what's transpired in the past 12 months, I'd like to see us have a homefield advantage next weekend."

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