No. 8 Kentucky Hosts No. 2 Arkansas in Another Mettle-Testing Series

No. 8 Kentucky Hosts No. 2 Arkansas in Another Mettle-Testing Series

by Tim Letcher

The eighth-ranked Kentucky baseball team hosts yet another nationally-ranked Southeastern Conference opponent this weekend, as the Cats welcome No. 2 Arkansas to Kentucky Proud Park for a three-game series.

Kentucky (33-9, 16-5 SEC) started league play 14-1, but the Cats have since dropped four of their last six league games. First, UK beat then-No. 4 Tennessee on Friday, but lost on Saturday and Sunday. Last weekend, Kentucky was able to take the second game against No. 19 South Carolina, but the Cats lost the Friday and Sunday games.

Now, Kentucky hosts the second-ranked Razorbacks in another key SEC series. The Cats lead the SEC’s Eastern Division, while the Hogs (38-7, 16-5) hold the lead in the league’s Western Division. Friday night’s first pitch is set for 6:30 p.m., followed by a 2 p.m. start on Saturday and a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday. All three games can be seen on SEC Network Plus.

Kentucky head coach Nick Mingione likes how his team has handled the recent adversity.

“They’ve been so consistent, that’s been the beauty of them,” Mingione said. “We’re a pitch away this past weekend from winning the series and we’re a couple of pitches away from the weekend before. They’ve been great. They’re a resilient group, they understand the importance of each day, the importance of wins and losses expiring. They’ve handled everything great.”

Mingione has seen what the difference is between the Cats’ wins and their losses. To him, it’s very simple.

“For us, our team, whether it’s our pitching staff, whether it’s us offensively, whether it’s us defensively, it all comes back to execution. When you go back and watch the video and we’re not at our best, it really comes back to execution. When you execute the pitches you need to execute, good things happen. When you don’t, bad things happen.”

After seeing record-breaking crowds two weekends ago against Tennessee, Kentucky Proud Park is expected to be packed again this weekend, with another marquee opponent in town. Mingione loves how the Big Blue Nation is supporting the Cats.

“Super excited. This will be two consecutive home weekends where we are sold out,” Mingione said. “It’s what we envisioned when we had this park. When you look back toward the end of last year, you started seeing the crowd pick up. I’m excited to get all of the people out, create that home field advantage we have and put on a good show for our fans.”

Both Kentucky and Arkansas come into the weekend with an SEC regular season title and a national seed in their sights. For the Cats, consistency and execution will be key as they face another talented opponent this weekend at Kentucky Proud Park.

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