If you're into mid-season awards – and the middle of the SEC baseball season will be upon us after the next two weekends – Kentucky has to be the hands-down winner for most improved.
The Wildcats were just 25-30 overall, 8-22 in the league last year. Currently, they're 27-2 overall, 7-2 and a game up on Florida in the SEC East.
The Kentucky schedule has drawn some fire.
Four pre-SEC series were South Carolina-UpState, Buffalo, Illinois-Chicago and Canisius. Those four have a combined 54-52 record, most of that upheld by SC-UpState, which is 21-8.
The Wildcats also won at Cincinnati (10-7) and have combined games ahead against Louisville (twice) and Cincinnati in Lexington.
WarrenNolan.com ranks the Kentucky strength of schedule at 67, the Ole Miss schedule at 27. The website gives Kentucky an RPI ranking of 5, Ole Miss of 15.
You can talk about the schedule, but you can't deny seven SEC wins in nine games. Three of those wins (two against Tennessee and one against Georgia) were by four runs or more.
Kentucky turned heads on SEC-opening weekend with a sweep of two-time defending national champion South Carolina, winning 4-3, 4-3 and 6-3.
It's been argued that South Carolina is not the same team, and, true enough, the Gamecocks haven't lost only to Kentucky. They're 3-6 in the league themselves.
Ole Miss players say they're not really surprised by Kentucky's success, but it's possible that response is categorized under the heading of “careful speech.”
Left fielder Tanner Mathis did point out that Kentucky has a very experienced team. He attributed the Wildcats' success to the hard work of players and coaches.
Kentucky returns six position starters and six pitchers.
Ole Miss and Kentucky meet for three this weekend in Lexington. Game times are 5:30, 1 and noon.