Cats slide into preseason rankings at No. 20

By J.D. Williams

Back-to-back bowl victories for the first time since the days of legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and the sudden free fall into the abyss by big blue basketball were not the only things shaking up UK’s athletics while students were breaking.

Buried in the excitement of another memorable football season and the disappointment of the men’s basketball season is a surging UK baseball team that was once again named one of college baseball’s elite teams to start the year.

Coming off a season in which the Cats set a school record with 19 straight wins to open the season, the Cats have entered the preseason polls by earning the No. 20 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

UK joins five other Southeastern Conference teams — No. 2 South Carolina, No. 4 Mississippi, No. 11 Vanderbilt, No. 27 Mississippi State and No. 30 Louisiana State — in the preseason poll.

This season the Cats return two of their top hitters. Senior  first baseman Sawyer Carroll

batted .350 last season while driving in 56 runners and hitting an SEC-best 23 doubles. Junior outfielder Collin Cowgill, a 2007 preseason All-American who missed the entire year due to injury, is back in the lineup.

Also returning for UK is Scott Green, a junior right-handed pitcher who had an intimidating 1.56 ERA last season.

Green, Cowgill and Carroll were all named to the 2008 Brooks Wallace National Player Award Watch List. Cowgill received the honor last season too.

Returning all three players puts fifth-year head coach John Cohen in good position for another SEC championship season, as he had in 2006 with a healthy club. Both Carroll and Green were selected in the Major League Baseball draft, but decided to stay in school.

Gymnastics prepares

for Excite Night

The UK gymnastic squad also received national attention over Winter Break. The team spent most of last season ranked in the top 25 and are currently ranked No. 24 in the GymInfo Preseason Coaches Poll.

Nine of the roster’s 14 gymnasts are freshmen or sophomores, and this year will be a challenge for the young team as they have scheduled matches against nine opponents ranked in the top 25 and five that are ranked in the top 10.

The Cats will waste no time trying to meet their lofty expectations, facing No. 19 Auburn on Saturday night in UK’s annual Excite Night held in Memorial Coliseum.

Women win final

non-conference game

The UK women’s basketball team salvaged a rough Winter Break with a 67-57 win over Wofford on Monday night.

The win was just the Cats’ second victory in their past five games, but it ended the non-conference schedule on a high note heading into tomorrow’s matchup with conference foe Florida.

Four players scored in double-figures for the Cats (6-8), led by senior center Sarah Elliott’s 16 points. Sophomore guard Amani Franklin chipped in with 15 points to help the Cats close out the Terriers.

UK opens SEC play tonight against the Gators at 7 in Memorial Coliseum.