Steadied by a midweek victory over Austin Peay, Kentucky's baseball team returns to Southeastern Conference play this weekend against visiting Tennessee.
Kentucky (23-9 overall and 6-6 in the SEC) had not lost a series all season until getting swept at No. 2 LSU last weekend. LSU not only won the three games, the Tigers outscored Kentucky 31-6.
"As concerned as common sense would dictate," UK Coach Gary Henderson said Thursday in describing the fallout from the LSU sweep. "... I was pretty confident we'd play well (against Austin Peay), but you've got to see it."
Reassurance came in the form of a 6-3 victory over Austin Peay on Tuesday
"For us to play well and pitch well — especially the pitching — was a really good sign," Henderson said.
The victory over Austin Peay wasn't the first time Kentucky has shown resilience. Earlier this season, the Cats lost opening games to Mississippi State and Georgia before rebounding to win those series.
"A good indication of where our kids are mentally," Henderson said.
LSU, which has gotten off to a school-record 32-2 start this season, gave Kentucky much to shrug off. LSU won the games by scores of 11-1, 9-1 and 11-4.
"On top of it all, we didn't play well and they got plenty of breaks," Henderson said. "... It just seemed like if it was going to be 6 inches foul, we were hitting it. And if it was going to be 6 inches fair, they were. And baseball is like that."
Tennessee (14-17 and 3-9) is in sixth place in the SEC Eastern Division. "They're in a corner," Henderson said.
The Vols rely on a running, aggressive style of offense, the UK coach said.
"It's pressure offense. They try to rattle you a little bit. Our guys, typically, have been pretty good with that approach."
The Kentucky-Tennessee series at Cliff Hagan Stadium begins Friday with a 6:30 p.m. start.
Eastern Division SEC All
Vanderbilt 11-1 30-4
South Carolina 8-5 27-8
Kentucky 6-6 23-9
Florida 6-7 17-18
Missouri 4-8 12-17
Tennessee 3-9 14-17
Georgia 2-10 12-22
Western Division SEC All
LSU 11-1 32-2
Arkansas 8-4 24-10
Alabama 8-4 22-13
Texas A&M 6-6 21-13
Mississippi State 5-7 27-9
Mississippi 4-8 23-10
Auburn 3-9 20-13
Tennessee at Kentucky, 6:30 p.m.
Georgia at Auburn, 7 p.m.
Missouri at Vanderbilt, 7:30 p.m.
Alabama at Mississippi, 7:30 p.m.
South Carolina at Florida, 7:30 p.m.
LSU at Arkansas, 7:35 p.m.
Miss. State at Texas A&M, 7:35 p.m.
Tennessee at No. 14 Kentucky
Friday: 6:30 p.m.
Saturday: 2 p.m.
Sunday: 1 p.m.
Radio: WLAP-AM 630
Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227 Twitter: @JerryTipton