LEXINGTON, Ky. -- A year removed from a historic 45-win season, Kentucky baseball has been ranked preseason No. 13 by Perfect Game USA, in the top-25 poll announced on Tuesday afternoon.
Kentucky, also ranked a school-record No. 8 in the preseason by Collegiate Baseball, is one of eight Southeastern Conference schools ranked in the top-25, with Arkansas (No. 2), Vanderbilt (No. 3), LSU (No. 5), Florida (No. 7), South Carolina (No. 11), Mississippi State (No. 16) and Ole Miss (No. 19) joining the Wildcats. All told, Kentucky will play 23 times in the 56-game regular-season schedule against teams ranked in the Perfect Game preseason top-25 poll, making up 41-percent of its 2013 schedule.
The Wildcats return three players who have already garnered 2013 preseason All-America honors, sophomore centerfielder Austin Cousino, junior southpaw Corey Littrell and sophomore two-way standout A.J. Reed.
UK also returns junior Matt Reida, a member of the 2012 Brooks Wallace Award Watch List, annually given to the nation’s top shortstop. Junior righty Trevor Gott was also on the USA Baseball Golden Spikes College Player of the Year Award Watch List and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award Watch List.
UK’s talent-laden roster is also bolstered by the return of senior weekend starter Jerad Grundy. The Johnsburg, Ill., native elected to return to UK for his senior season as a 26th round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins. Grundy, Gott, Littrell and Reed will help anchor a strong UK pitching staff which also includes 2012 Perfect Game first-team summer league All-America right-hander Chandler Shepherd.
The Wildcats roster is among the NCAA’s best as UK tied for the nation’s lead with nine 2013 players in the Cape Cod League or with the USA Collegiate National Team during the summer.
Kentucky will open the 2013 season in Spartanburg, S.C., against UNC Asheville on Feb. 15. After a weekend series in Myrtle Beach, S.C., the second weekend, UK will open its home schedule on Feb. 26 against Murray State at Cliff Hagan Stadium.