Ryan Waldschmidt Setting Table for Kentucky Baseball Offense

Ryan Waldschmidt Setting Table for Kentucky Baseball Offense

by Tim Letcher

As the Kentucky baseball team has made its way up the national rankings and to the top of the Southeastern Conference this season, left fielder Ryan Waldschmidt has been the driving force behind the Wildcats’ offense.

That was the case again on Thursday night as Waldschmidt had three hits, scored three runs and drove in three more as Kentucky won it’s 21st SEC game of the season, beating Vanderbilt 10-5 at Kentucky Proud Park. The 21 wins marks the most conference wins in school history for Kentucky.

Waldschmidt started the game with a double to left center field in the bottom of the first inning and would later score UK’s first of three runs in the frame. In the third inning, Waldschmidt hit his 10th home run of the season, giving UK a 7-1 lead early. In the fifth inning, Waldschmidt added a single to center field. For Waldschmidt, leading off and getting on base is key to the UK offense.

“I’ve always been a guy who just tries to get on base and just find a way to get to first because I think that’s a huge part of being a leadoff,” Waldschmidt said. “This past weekend at Florida, I don’t think I led off the game getting on one time and I think that’s a huge thing for momentum for our offense. And that was a goal I set for myself today is to try to find a way on to first to start this game. I ended up hitting a double and we put up three runs, so that was huge for us. If I can get on to start every game, then that’s a big part of this team and that’s what gets us going.”

UK head coach Nick Mingione values what Waldschmidt brings to the Cats.

“He’s just an amazing player. As good as it gets,” Mingione said. “He’s as good of a player as there is out there. He impacts the game on every level. Not only did he hit a home run, not only did he get the double, two-strike hit, he stole a base, just amazing player. We need him to keep going.”

As the competition has gotten tougher, Waldschmidt has gotten even better. Through 28 conference games, Waldschmidt has a team-high 45 hits and has a team-best .398 batting average. He leads the Cats in SEC games with 11 doubles and in stolen bases with 17. He is second on the team with six league home runs. How has he been able to keep going while facing some of the nation’s best teams?

“I think we’ve got to be able to let it expire at midnight,” Waldschmidt said. “My three for four today means nothing tomorrow. For me, it’s just being able to go to sleep tonight knowing that I’ve got to get up tomorrow and do it all again. Just being able to reset and just come out here and play every day and forget the results from the day before is just a big thing for me.”

As the Cats inch closer to a second SEC baseball title in school history, Waldschmidt will, undoubtedly, be in the middle of the UK offensive attack.

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