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PREVIEW: Kentucky baseball travels to Oxford for road series against Ole Miss

Isaiah Pinto
Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Travis Smith watches on during the Kentucky vs. Morehead State baseball game on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 9-5. Photo by Isaiah Pinto | Staff

No. 24 Kentucky baseball is set for a three-game weekend road series against the Ole Miss Rebels.

Through two conference series the Wildcats have a 5-1 record while the Rebels have a 3-3 record. Kentucky began conference play with a sweep over Georgia before taking two out of three against Missouri.

Ole Miss took two out of three against South Carolina before dropping two out of three against Tennessee.


Looking at the overall hitting stats, the Rebels rank eighth in the SEC with a .284 team batting average. The Wildcats are a few points below at a .280 team average, which ranks 11th in the SEC.

The Rebels also hold a slight advantage in team on-base percentage at .423, which sits at seventh while the Cats are ninth in the conference with a .410 team on-base percentage.

On the pitching side, the Wildcats hold the advantage with a team ERA of 3.66, which is fifth in the SEC while the Rebels rank 11th in the SEC with a 4.99 team ERA.

The Wildcats also have an advantage in regards to batting average against at .206, which is third in the SEC. The Rebels come in at 11th in the conference with a .250 batting average against.


Since conference play, Brayden Randle has led the Rebels offensive starters with a .455 batting average and a .538 on-base percentage. He has a .279 average and .436 on-base percentage on the season, but his hot start to conference play makes him someone the Cats should be weary of.

Kentucky Ryan Waldschmidt bunts during the Kentucky vs Lipscomb baseball game on Friday, Mar. 1, 2024, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky, Kentucky won 7-4. Photo by Sydney Yonker | Staff (Sydney Yonker)

Ethan Lege leads the Rebels in overall batting average at .376 and base percentage at .491, though his average has dipped a few points down to .368 since conference play began, though his on base percentage has risen to .500. The Rebels will look to Lege and his consistency to be a big part of their offensive attack.

Another hot bat for the Rebels during conference play has been Andrew Fischer, who comes into the weekend with a .364 batting average and a .481 on-base percentage during SEC play. Both of these marks are up from his season totals that sit at .333 for average and .461 for on base percentage.

For the Wildcats, Ryan Nicholson, Nolan McCarthy and Ryan Waldschmidt are all tied with a team leading .381 conference batting average while Nicholson and Waldschmidt also remain tied for the team lead in on-base percentage in SEC play at .500. McCarthy falls just behind the duo with a .458 on-base percentage.

Looking at the overall season, Nick Lopez leads the team in batting average at .395 followed by Émilien Pitre at .327.

The Cats will look to the hot starts in conference play and their overall season leaders to fuel their offensive attack.


After not pitching in the Rebels’ midweek victory over Austin Peay, midweek starter Riley Maddox is seemingly getting the nod for game one. It has been a gradual build up for Maddox as he is working his way back from an injury that limited him to just five innings in relief last season.

He started the season pitching only two innings in one appearance, but has since built his way up to six innings, which he has pitched in each of his last two starts.

So far Maddox has accumulated 25.2 innings pitched in which he has given up 13 earned runs while striking out 21 batters.

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Mason Moore (20) pitches the ball during the Kentucky vs. Evansville home opener baseball game on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023, at Kentucky Proud Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 6-3. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff (Jack Weaver)

For the Wildcats, Travis Smith had started all Friday night games up until last week, when Trey Pooser got the starting nod.

Smith, in his lone SEC start against Georgia, surrendered five earned runs across five innings of work and has a 6.57 ERA on the season.

Pooser started game one against Missouri and tossed six innings of one-run baseball after typically coming out of the bullpen. Combined with his lone start he has a 3.72 ERA.

On Saturdays the Rebels have sent Liam Doyle to the mound and he has been their best pitcher both in conference and throughout the entire season. On the year he has a 4.12 ERA, with the figure rising in conference games as, through two starts, he has posted a 4.76 ERA.

Doyle has showcased the ability to strike batters out as he has 20 Ks across the 11.1 innings he has tossed.

For UK, Dominic Niman has started every Saturday for the Wildcats thus far and has been their best starter in SEC play. He has posted a 1.32 ERA and struck out 14 batters across his 13.2 innings pitched and ranks second on the team among starters in total ERA, which sits at 3.31.

So far on Sundays the Rebels have sent Grayson Saunier to the mound, however it appears typical Friday night starter, Gunnar Dennis, will be getting the nod for game three against the Wildcats. Through two conference starts, Dennis has a 13.50 ERA after surrendering 13 earned runs in eight-and-two-thirds Innings.

Something that has been a strength for Dennis is his ability to strike batters out as he has accumulated 12 strikeouts across eight-and-two-thirds innings pitched.

For the Wildcats, Mason Moore is likely to be on the hill in the series finale as he has been the Cats’ best starting arm on paper with a 3.03 ERA.

Despite that, through two starts in conference play, Moore has posted a 4.91 ERA as he has given up six earned runs in 11 innings. He is tied with Niman for the lead in strikeouts in conference among Wildcat starters with 14.

Now that the table is set, the Wildcats and Rebels will face off in game one on Friday, Mar. 29, with first pitch scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.

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