GatorsTerritory - Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Series Preview
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Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Series Preview

The Florida Gators are back on the road for a three-game series against one of the top-hitting teams in the SEC. Florida will travel to Lexington, Kentucky to take on the Kentucky Wildcats.

The Kentucky Wildcats are a well-rounded team that has one of the best offenses in the country and SEC. The Wildcats have a 26-15 record with a 10-11 record in SEC play. Kentucky is also a very tough team to play in their stadium as they have a 20-8 record.

The Florida Gators are one of the hottest teams in the country as they have won five out of their last seven games against Vanderbilt, Auburn, and Stetson. The Gators are also currently on a three-game winning streak.


Kentucky Wildcats

The Kentucky Wildcats will host the Florida Gators for the first time since the 2018 season in which Florida won two out of three in that series. The Wildcats will be led by their head coach, Nick Mingione, who is in the middle of the fifth season at the University of Kentucky.

The Wildcats pitching staff has some talented arms in their pitching rotation and bullpen but rank towards the bottom in the SEC. Kentucky has a 4.39 team ERA which ranks eleventh in the SEC.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Cole Stupp is Kentucky’s ace pitcher and will get the start for the series opener on Thursday. Stupp has been very solid for the Wildcats as he has a 4-4 record with a 4.03 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and 1.2 BB/9.

Graduate transfer Sean Harney is the projected Friday pitcher for the Wildcats versus Florida. The former UMASS pitcher has made fourteen appearances including three starts this season. Harney has posted a 3-0 record with a 3.45 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 12.4 K/9.

Sophomore right-hander Zack Lee is the projected Saturday arm for the Wildcats as he’s expected to pitch in the series finale. Lee has made ten starts this season with a 4-4 record, 4.47 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and a .276 opponent batting average.

The Wildcats are hitting .285 as a team, the fifth-ranked offense in the country. One of Kentucky’s most dangerous hitters is their first baseman T.J. Collett.

The fifth-year senior is having a terrific season with the Wildcats as he has some of the best power numbers in the SEC. Collett is slashing .309/.417/.667 with 46 hits, six doubles, fifteen home runs, 47 RBIs and a team-high 1.081 OPS. Collett leads the SEC in slugging and is third in home runs.

one of the top hitters in the SEC, Senior catcher Coltyn Kessler, leads the Wildcats in hitting. Kessler is slashing .378/.458/.586 with 42 hits, eight doubles, five home runs and a 1.044 OPS. Two other Wildcats to watch this series are outfielders John Rhodes and Austin Schultz.


Probably Kentucky lineup
Column 1 Column 2

C

Coltyn Kessler

1B

T.J. Collett

2B

Zeke Lewis

3B

Reuben Church

SS

Ryan Ritter

LF

Austin Schultz

CF

Cam Hill

RF

John Rhodes

DH

Oraj Anu

Florida Gators

The Florida Gators will look to stay hot as they’ll be on the road taking on the Kentucky Wildcats. The Gators will need to continue their recent success in order to host a regional towards the end of the season.

Florida’s head coach, Kevin O’Sullivan, will keep the same rotation they had last weekend. Right-handed pitcher Franco Aleman will get the start for the series opener. Aleman has struggled a hit as he has a 1-2 record in five starts. He also has a 5.05 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, and .247 opponent batting average.

Right-handed pitcher Tommy Mace will get the start on Friday. Mace has been solid this season with a 5-0 record in eleven appearances and ten starts. Mace has a 4.35 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 10.7 K/9.

Left-handed pitcher Hunter Barco will get the start for Florida in the series finale. Barco has had an up and down season after a strong freshman season in 2020. Barco has a 7-2 record in eleven starts. He also has a 4.76 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, and a 10.5 K/9.

The Gators' offense has been very good during the 2021 season. The Gators have a .287 team batting average which ranks third in the SEC. Florida also ranks fifth in slugging percentage (.467) and second in hits (436).

The leading hitter for the Gators is catcher Nathan Hickey. The second-year freshman is slashing .354/.478/.596 with some of the best hitting numbers in the SEC. Hickey is sixth in batting average, second in on base percentage, and tenth in slugging percentage.

Outfielder Jacob Young continues his success at the plate as he’s one of the top hitters in the SEC. Young is slashing .316/.401/.455 with 59 hits, thirteen doubles, two triples, three home runs, 23 RBIs, and a .856 OPS. Two other Gators to watch this weekend are infielder Colby Halter and outfielder Sterlin Thompson.


Florida projected lineup 
Column 1 Column 2

C

Nathan Hickey

1B

Jordan Butler

2B

Colby Halter

3B

Kirby McMullen

SS

Josh Rivera

LF

Jacob Young

CF

Jud Fabian

RF

Sterlin Thompson

DH

Kris Armstrong