Dec. 25, 2008

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A year after posting a school-record 44 wins and advancing to the NCAA Ann Arbor Regional Championship game, the Kentucky baseball team has been ranked a school-best No. 25 nationally in attendance for the 2008 season, it was announced.

Kentucky, tabbed No. 19 in the 2009 preseason, finished the season with an average of 2,134 fans per game. UK ranked 10th overall in the Southeastern Conference in 2008, the highest finish in the league in the 104-year history of the program. UK’s previous school-record for NCAA-attendance rankings came in 2007, when the Wildcats ranked No. 28, with an average of 2,060 fans per game.

With 122 wins over the last three years, UK has solidified itself as a college-baseball power, claiming the SEC Championship and hosting an NCAA Regional during a historic 2006 season. In 2007, UK ran up a 19-game winning streak and totaled 34 wins, coming half a game shy of advancing to the SEC Tournament, despite missing 2008 first-team All-American outfielder Collin Cowgill and 2008 MLB third-round draft pick, Scott Green, due to injuries.

In 2003-2005, Kentucky ranked at the bottom of the SEC cellar in attendance, averaging 329 fans per game in 2003, 387 fans per game in 2004, and 383 fans in 2005. UK’s 2006 season saw a jump in attendance from last place in the league to 11th place, averaging 1,512 fans per game during its historic worst-to-first run.

Again displayed in the attendance ranking is the fan support and tradition of the SEC, the best conference in college baseball. Of the first six teams in the 2008 attendance rankings, SEC teams made up four, with LSU, Arkansas and Mississippi State ranking 1-2-3. South Carolina, on the verge of a new ballpark, Ole Miss and Alabama all joined LSU, Arkansas and Mississippi State in the top 10, giving the SEC six of the top 10 teams in the nation in attendance. For the last two years, every SEC team has ranked in the top-50 in the NCAA in attendance, with all 12 teams averaging over 1,000 fans per game, the only conference in the nation to boast such an accomplishment.

Among the other notable teams ranked in the top-50 of the NCAA attendance summary, was state rival Louisville, who ranked No. 50, with an average of 1,097 fans per game.

The 2008 campaign saw UK set a new Cliff Hagan Stadium attendance records for a single-game attendance (4,009 vs. Louisville), three-game series attendance (8,238 vs. Florida) and single-game SEC attendance (3,036 vs. UF). In addition, UK played in front of five school-record crowds in 2008 – four on the road – including three in-state road games and a game in Cincinnati.

The Wildcats open up the 2009 season on Feb. 20, traveling to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to face James Madison, Troy and 2008 NCAA regional-host Coastal Carolina in a season-opening tournament.

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