California Kid Lopez Finding New Home in Kentucky

California Kid Lopez Finding New Home in Kentucky

by Tim Letcher

Kentucky baseball infielder Nick Lopez has always been a California kid. However, he seems to have found a new home in the Bluegrass State.

Lopez, from Santa Ana, California, played his first year of college baseball at Santa Ana Community College before transferring to Southern California. In two years with the Trojans, he had 24 doubles, hit a total of 13 home runs and drove in 60 runs.

After graduating from USC, Lopez was looking for a new opportunity and he found it at Kentucky. And in Tuesday’s 10-0 UK win over Eastern Kentucky, Lopez hit his first home run as a Wildcat. It was a great feeling for Lopez.

“It felt awesome,” he said. “I haven’t hit right-handed all of last year. To bring it back and hit that for my first career Kentucky homer felt awesome.”

Why did he stop hitting right-handed?

“My coach told me not to,” Lopez said. “Coming here, Coach Ammo (Nick Ammirati) said I don’t know why you stopped swinging. To have that confidence from him to give that back to me, it’s easy to go in the box and perform. I’m glad I brought it back, it makes me more versatile.”

Lopez cites Ammirati as the main reason for his renewed confidence at the plate.

“Coach Ammo. He works with every guy,” Lopez said. “He dialed me in and I feel great and he makes me feel confident. Having that confidence from him and my teammates, it’s easy to go on the field and perform.”

Through 12 games, Lopez leads Kentucky with a .371 batting average and a .657 slugging percentage. His five doubles are also best on the team early in the season.

Despite living and playing in California his entire life, Lopez is loving his experience in Kentucky. What is it about the Bluegrass State that he enjoys the most?

“The energy that the fans bring,” Lopez said. “Every game, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, the fans bring it and it makes the game so much more fun. Having everybody behind you, it just feels like a family. That’s the biggest difference for me.”

And he’s loving being a Wildcat and being able to contribute to UK’s 11-1 start to the season.

“I love it,” Lopez said. “It’s awesome to be able to be here and perform for the fans and the team at Kentucky. I love it here.”

Lopez is happy to be at Kentucky and his performance has endeared him to UK fans already.

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