Kentucky Wildcats baseball

The Kentucky Wildcats baseball team represents the University of Kentucky in NCAA Division I college baseball and competes in the Eastern division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The current head coach of the Wildcats is Nick Mingione.

Kentucky Wildcats
2023 Kentucky Wildcats baseball team
UniversityUniversity of Kentucky
Athletic directorMitch Barnhart
Head coachNick Mingione (7th season)
Eastern Division
LocationLexington, Kentucky
Home stadiumKentucky Proud Park (from 2019)
(Capacity: 4,000)
ColorsBlue and white[1]
NCAA regional champions
NCAA Tournament appearances
1988, 1993, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2017[2]
Regular season conference champions

Kentucky is the only member of the 14-team SEC never to reach the College World Series. Arkansas and South Carolina, both of which joined the SEC in 1992, have made multiple trips to Omaha since coming aboard, with the Gamecocks claiming back-to-back championships in 2010 and 2011. In 2013, the newest members, Missouri and Texas A&M, both made appearances as members of other conferences.


The baseball program, partly hampered by being the northernmost school in the heavily warm-weather SEC (until Missouri's arrival in 2013), has historically achieved only modest success at best. Under longtime coach Keith Madison (1979–2003), the Wildcats had some good teams. However, due to playing in the same league as national powers Florida, LSU (which won five national championships under Skip Bertman from 1991 through 2000), Mississippi State, and South Carolina, regular-season success was rarely rewarded with a postseason berth. In 28 years, Madison was only able to lead the Wildcats to two NCAA Tournaments, in 1988 and 1993. The Wildcats won their first three regional games in 1988 to move to within one win of the CWS, but lost twice in the championship round to 1987 national champion Stanford, which went on to successfully defend its title.

Wildcats baseball hit bottom at the turn of the 21st century, with only one winning season from 1997 through 2004, and five straight last-place finishes in the SEC East from 2001 through 2005. In 2003, after Madison's retirement, Kentucky hired Florida assistant John Cohen as head coach. Cohen was able to lead the Cats to a winning overall season in 2005, despite another SEC cellar finish.

Few could have expected the Cinderella season the Cats would have in 2006. They went from worst to first in the SEC, winning a regular-season conference title for the first time in three decades, and being ranked as high as fourth in the country by one major baseball poll during the season. However, the newly energized Kentucky baseball faithful saw the Cats crash out of the SEC tournament early and fail to make it out of the regionals of the NCAA tournament at home.

There were high hopes for the 2007 team and for the most part they delivered. They started the season 19–0 before falling to Arkansas. They then fell into a tailspin but rebounded at the end of the year to just miss the SEC playoffs after a Tennessee Volunteers win. They finished with a 37–19 record. Jason Kipnis, who was an outfielder for that team, is now a second baseman for the Cleveland Indians.

In 2008, Kentucky started off strong posting a 19–0 record and being ranked as high as #4 in the nation. The Wildcats rolled into conference play and began to struggle after being swept by eventual College World Series runner-up Georgia and College World Series participant LSU. The Wildcats finished the season strong and made it into the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats would end up losing to Arizona in the regional final in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wildcats finished the season with a 44–19 record, the most wins in school history. They finished 25th in the final ESPN/USA Today poll.

The Wildcats slumped back to the SEC's second division in 2009, though they finished two games over .500 overall. Cohen left for Mississippi State after the season, and pitching coach Gary Henderson was named his successor.

In 2012, Kentucky garnered its most successful season ever in program history. Henderson was voted SEC Coach of the Year by the league coaches. Henderson directed the Wildcats to a school-record 45-win season, with UK completing its best finishes in the SEC and NCAA Tournaments in school annals. The 2012 season also marked the first time that UK had ever been ranked No. 1. UK finished the season with a No. 11 ranking by Baseball America. UK also achieved a program record by winning seven of ten series in SEC play. UK also ran up a school-record 22-game winning streak, which is the second longest in SEC history.


The Wildcats played their home games on campus at Cliff Hagan Stadium from 1969 through 2018. On October 21, 2016, Kentucky announced plans to build a new stadium, with fixed seating for 2,400, additional grass berm seating for a permanent capacity of 4,000, and the capability to add temporary seating to raise capacity to as much as 7,000. The new stadium, Kentucky Proud Park, opened on February 26, 2019 with a 7-3 win over Eastern Kentucky in front of 4,074 fans.[3]

Head coaches

  • G.L. Byroade (1903)
  • A.A. Gordon (1904)
  • W.C. Kelly (1905)
  • H.E. Reed (1906)
  • F.C. Paullin (1907)
  • C.M. Leaphart (1908)
  • Frank Engel (1911–1913)
  • Alpha Brummage (1914–1915)
  • Bill Tuttle (1916)
  • J.B. Fledge (1917)
  • Andrew Gill (1920–1921)
  • Jim Park (1922)
  • C.E. Barger (1923–1924)
  • Fred J. Murphy (1925–1926)
  • John Devereauux (1927, 1929–1931)
  • Fred Major (1928)
  • Frank Moseley (1939–1941, 1946, 1948–1950)
  • Bill Black (1942)
  • Harry Lancaster (1947, 1951–1965)
  • Abe Shannon (1966–1969)
  • Dick Parsons (1970–1972)
  • Jordan "Tuffy" Horne (1973–1978)
  • Keith Madison (1979–2003)
  • John Cohen (2004–2008)
  • Gary Henderson (2009–2016)
  • Nick Mingione (2017– )

Former players

Player awards

National awards

Dick Howser Trophy[4]

Dick Howser Trophy
Player Position year
A.J. ReedUtility Player2014

Golden Spikes Award[5]

Golden Spikes Award winners
Player Position year
A.J. ReedUtility Player2014
  • Baseball America College Player of the Year Award
A. J. Reed (2014)
A. J. Reed (2014)
  • John Olerud Award
A. J. Reed (2014)

SEC Awards

  • Player of the Year Award
Ryan Strieby (2006)
A. J. Reed (2014)


The following is a list of Kentucky's All-Americans:

Year Player Position
1949Dom FucciC
1961Dickie ParsonsSS
1976Jimmy SherrillOF
1981Jeff KeenerP
1987Terry Shumpert2B
1988Chris EstepOF
1991Rick Norton3B
1991Mike Harris1B
1993Brad HindersmanDH
1994Jeff AbbottOF
1996Chad GreenOF
1996Sam White2B
1999John WilsonC
2006Ryan Strieby1B
2007Sean CoughlinC
2008Sawyer CarrollOF
2008Collin CowgillOF
2014A. J. Reed1B
2019Jake SanfordOF
Kentucky Wildcats All-Americans

NCAA Tournament record

Year-by-Year Results
Year Record Pct. Notes
19883-2.600Northeast Regional
19930-2.000Central II Regional
20062-2.500Lexington Regional
20082-2.500Ann Arbor Regional
20122-2.500Gary Regional
20142-2.500Louisville Regional
20170-2.000Louisville Super Regional

Wildcats in MLB

Several Wildcats players have gone on to play in Major League Baseball.

Position Name Bats Throws Hometown Draft Year Round MLB Team
OF Collin Cowgill R L Lexington, KY 2008 5th Los Angeles Angels
RP Scott Downs L L Louisville, KY 1997 3rd Chicago White Sox
SP James Paxton L L Richmond, BC 2010 4th Seattle Mariners
RP Chris Rusin L L Detroit, MI 2009 4th Colorado Rockies
RP Trevor Gott R R Lexington, KY 2013 4th Washington Nationals
SP Alex Meyer R R Greensburg, IN 2011 1st Minnesota Twins
RP Taylor Rogers L L Littleton, CO 2012 11th Minnesota Twins
1B A. J. Reed L L Terre Haute, IN 2014 2nd Houston Astros

See also

  • List of NCAA Division I baseball programs


  1. Primary Color Palette (PDF). University of Kentucky Athletics Brand Identity Guidelines. February 5, 2016. Retrieved August 3, 2017.
  2. "DI Tournament Appearances". National Collegiate Athletic Association. May 26, 2012. Archived from the original on June 3, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
  3. "EASTERN KENTUCKY (6-3) -VS- KENTUCKY (4-3)". Archived from the original on 27 February 2019. Retrieved 27 February 2019.
  4. "Dick Howser Trophy on Baseball Almanac." Dick Howser Trophy on Baseball Almanac. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 September 2016. Archived 2016-10-27 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Golden Spikes Award by USA Baseball on Baseball Almanac." Golden Spikes Award by USA Baseball on Baseball Almanac. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 September 2016. Archived 2016-09-11 at the Wayback Machine
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