2018 UK baseball schedule loaded with tourney foes, including Louisville twice – Lexington Herald Leader

The Kentucky baseball team will square off twice next season against in-state rival Louisville, the team that knocked it out of last season’s NCAA super regional, as part of a 2018 schedule that includes 11 opponents who made the 2017 NCAA Tournament field.

Two of the Wildcats’ 2018 opponents made the College World Series, three others advanced to the super regionals and five hosted a regional, again setting up what should be one of the nation’s most difficult schedules.

A home-and-home with the Cardinals (April 3 and 17) is among the highlights of a non-conference schedule includes a home weekend series against Texas Tech, which spent much of the 2017 season in the national top 10, March 9-11, and a trip to Indiana (May 8).

The 2018 season will be the final one at Cliff Hagan Stadium, as the program moves into a new $49 million facility in time for the 2019 campaign.

In addition to opening the season in Spartanburg, S.C., the weekend of Feb. 16, the Cats will travel to Houston for the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic beginning March 2. The three-game event, in which the Cats face Houston, Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Lafayette, will be played at Minute Maid Park, home of Major League Baseball’s Houston Astros.

The Cats’ home opener will be Feb. 21 against Xavier at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Southeastern Conference play begins March 16 when UK travels to Arkansas to kick off its 30-game league gauntlet. The Wildcats host Auburn (March 23-25), South Carolina (April 6-8), Florida (April 20-22), Missouri (April 27-29) and Mississippi State (May 11-13), and travel to Alabama (March 30-April 1), Georgia (April 13-15), Tennessee (May 4-6) and the regular season-ending series at Vanderbilt (May 17-19).

“We’re excited about the upcoming season,” UK head coach Nick Mingione said. “We believe in testing our team against the best competition and this schedule gives us that opportunity. We’re honored to play in the Shriners Classic against three quality opponents and the SEC will be a challenge once again. We look forward to competing and working toward bringing another championship to Lexington.”

The SEC Tournament will be held May 22-27 in Hoover, Ala. The top 12 teams in the league standings advance to the tournament.

UK returns three of its top starting pitchers in right-handers Sean Hjelle and Justin Lewis, and lefty Zack Thompson. Hjelle was the SEC Pitcher of the Year and Thompson a freshman All-American, while Lewis returned to school after being selected in the 11th round of the MLB Draft. The Cats will need to replace the production of five lineup mainstays from 2017 but do return All-America outfielder Tristan Pompey and Second-Team All-SEC catcher Troy Squires.

2018 KENTUCKY BASEBALL SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Site

Feb. 16

Wofford

Spartanburg, S.C.

Feb. 17

USC-Upstate

Spartanburg, S.C.

Feb. 17

USC-Upstate

Spartanburg, S.C.

Feb. 18

Evansville

Spartanburg, S.C.

FEB. 21

XAVIER

LEXINGTON

FEB. 23

OAKLAND

LEXINGTON

FEB. 24

OAKLAND

LEXINGTON

FEB. 25

OAKLAND

LEXINGTON

FEB. 27

WESTERN KENTUCKY

LEXINGTON

March 2

Houston

Houston, Texas

March 3

Sam Houston State

Houston, Texas

March 4

Louisiana-Lafayette

Houston, Texas

MARCH 6

EASTERN KENTUCKY

LEXINGTON

MARCH 7

NORTHERN KENTUCKY

LEXINGTON

MARCH 9

TEXAS TECH

LEXINGTON

MARCH 10

TEXAS TECH

LEXINGTON

MARCH 11

TEXAS TECH

LEXINGTON

MARCH 13

MURRAY STATE

LEXINGTON

March 16

Arkansas

Fayetteville, Ark.

March 17

Arkansas

Fayetteville, Ark.

March 18

Arkansas

Fayetteville, Ark.

March 20

Xavier

Cincinnati, Ohio

MARCH 23

AUBURN

LEXINGTON

MARCH 24

AUBURN

LEXINGTON

MARCH 25

AUBURN

LEXINGTON

MARCH 28

MIAMI (OH)

LEXINGTON

March 30

Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

March 31

Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

April 1

Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Ala.

APRIL 3

LOUISVILLE

LEXINGTON

APRIL 6

SOUTH CAROLINA

LEXINGTON

APRIL 7

SOUTH CAROLINA

LEXINGTON

APRIL 8

SOUTH CAROLINA

LEXINGTON

April 11

Western Carolina

Cullowhee, N.C.

April 13

Georgia

Athens, Ga.

April 14

Georgia

Athens, Ga.

April 15

Georgia

Athens, Ga.

April 17

Louisville

Louisville

APRIL 20

FLORIDA

LEXINGTON

APRIL 21

FLORIDA

LEXINGTON

APRIL 22

FLORIDA

LEXINGTON

APRIL 25

MOREHEAD STATE

LEXINGTON

APRIL 27

MISSOURI

LEXINGTON

APRIL 28

MISSOURI

LEXINGTON

APRIL 29

MISSOURI

LEXINGTON

May 4

Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn.

May 5

Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn.

May 6

Tennessee

Knoxville, Tenn.

May 8

Indiana

Bloomington, Ind.

MAY 11

MISSISSIPPI STATE

LEXINGTON

MAY 12

MISSISSIPPI STATE

LEXINGTON

MAY 13

MISSISSIPPI STATE

LEXINGTON

May 15

Murray State

Paducah

May 17

Vanderbilt

Nashville, Tenn.

May 18

Vanderbilt

Nashville, Tenn.

May 19

Vanderbilt

Nashville, Tenn.

May 22-27

SEC Tournament

Hoover, Ala.

June 1-4

NCAA Tournament regionals

TBA

June 8-11

NCAA Tournament super regionals

TBA

June 16-27

College World Series

TBA

Note: Schedule is subject to change. Home games in bold and all capital letters.

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