A news release from the University of Kentucky Athletics.
No. 8 Kentucky Opens 2018 Season With Four-Game Road Trip
Wildcats travel to Spartanburg for Opening Weekend
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Coming off a season that saw Kentucky advance to its first-ever Super Regional and just two wins from the College World Series the Wildcats open 2018 with a four-game road trip to South Carolina, where it will face hosts Wofford and USC Upstate, as well as Evansville.
Ranked No. 8 in all the major preseason polls, the Cats return one of the nation’s top weekend starting rotations, including reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year Sean Hjelle, 2017 MLB draftee Justin Lewis and top 2019 draft prospect Zack Thompson. That trio will be buoyed by a bullpen that features hard throwers Chris Machamer and Zach Haake, as well as experienced lefty Brad Schaenzer.
Although UK lost a pair of all-americans from its lineup, All-American outfielder Tristan Pompey will highlight an offense that also returns Second-Team All-SEC catcher Troy Squires, catcher/first baseman Kole Cottam and second baseman Luke Becker. A highly-regarded junior college class also is expected to make an immediate impact on the lineup.
In 2017, UK’s 43 victories were the fourth-most in program history and the 19 SEC victories were the second-most in school history. The Cats finished the regular season with the No. 9 RPI in the country against the nation’s 13th-most difficult schedule and had 18 wins against the RPI Top 50, tied for the fourth-most of any team. Coach Nick Mingione was named Perfect Game/Rawlings National Coach of the Year and SEC Coach of the Year in his rookie campaign as a head coach.
Kentucky will send Hjelle to the mound on Friday to face Wofford left-hander Adam Scott. For Saturday’s doubleheader Thompson will pitch against USC Upstate, with Lewis either starting in the nightcap on Saturday or Sunday’s game vs. Evansville. The fourth slot for this weekend is yet to be determined.
WEEKEND PITCHING MATCHUPS
UK – Sean Hjelle (Jr., RHP): 11-4, 3.89 ERA in 2017
Wofford – Adam Scott (Jr., LHP): 6-6, 4.92 ERA
UK – Zack Thompson (So., LHP): 8-3, 3.45 ERA; TBD
USC Upstate – Kevin Hickey (Sr., RHP): 4-7, 4.73 ERA; Trey Van der Weide (So., LHP): 2-2, 6.06 ERA
UK – TBD
Evansville – TBD
Friday at Wofford:
5 p.m.; Russell C. King Field; SoCon Digital Network (Game Link)
Saturday at USC Upstate (DH)
1 p.m. and 5 p.m.; Harley Park; Facebook Live (Game Link)
Sunday vs. Evansville
11 a.m.; Harley Park
Radio: 98.5 FM Lexington (Dick Gabriel); ukathletics.com