For the first time in University of Kentucky baseball history, season tickets are sold out prior to the first home game.
Kentucky will begin the 2018 season where it left off a year ago, as a top-10 team with plenty of buzz around the program. Baseball America ranked the Wildcats No. 8 in its preseason poll released on Tuesday. The No. 8 ranking is the highest ever for Kentucky in Baseball America’s preseason top 25 poll.
Reserved and general admission season tickets were gobbled up by fans, marking a high-water mark for the 50th and final season at Cliff Hagan Stadium. All reserved seats are sold out for the sixth consecutive season. Kentucky’s home opener is Feb. 21 vs. Xavier.
“Our season tickets are sold out for the very first time,” UK head coach Nick Mingione said. “Why did that happen? Because the Big Blue Nation is awesome, that’s why.”
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Fans can still make their way to the ballpark, as general admission single-game tickets remain on sale via Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000. General admission single game tickets are $8 for adults and $5 for youth and seniors, with children 5 and under admitted free. A special Triple Crown general admission package that includes the Feb. 27 game against Western Kentucky, March 6 game versus Eastern Kentucky and March 13 game versus Murray State is available for $3 per game for all ages.
Single-game tickets also include special opportunities such as group tickets for groups of 20 or more, Cliff Crew youth baseball packages that feature the chance to stand with the team for the national anthem and being inside the team huddle as the Wildcats take the field, and birthday parties. Additional details are available here.
Fans are encouraged to arrive early to secure seats in the general admission areas. Purchasing a general admission ticket does not necessarily guarantee a seat in the stadium. General admission seating areas consists of bleacher seating in Sections A & C (Rows 12-19), Section H (third base bleachers), and standing room along the third base line.
The Cats open their season at Wofford on Feb. 16 and have a home schedule loaded with quality opponents including defending national champion Florida, consensus preseason top five-ranked Texas Tech, Louisville, South Carolina and the final series at The Cliff when Mississippi State comes to town May 11-13. The full 2018 schedule can be found here.
Kentucky juniors Sean Hjelle and Tristan Pompey, and senior Luke Becker were named to preseason All-Southeastern Conference teams in a vote by league coaches Thursday.
Also, Kentucky was voted to finish second in the SEC East behind defending national champion Florida.
Pompey received First-Team Preseason All-SEC honors as an outfielder, while Hjelle was named Second-Team All-SEC as a starting pitcher and Becker joined him as a second baseman.
Pompey, who was a First-Team All-SEC and Third-Team All-American in 2017, was recognized on the strength of his incredible sophomore season. The Toronto, Ontario, native has been named to multiple preseason All-America teams as well.
The 6-foot-4 outfielder hit .361 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs, 45 RBI and 70 runs scored in 2017. He set the UK single-season record for at bats (266) and his 96 hits ranked second nationally and third on the school’s single-season chart. Pompey also ranked among the nation’s elite players in runs scored with 70, which was fifth nationally and third on UK’s single-season list. He had 29 multi-hit games and enters the 2018 season with a 37-game reached base streak.
Hjelle, the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Year, also has been recognized on preseason All-America teams after his breakthrough 2017 season. The 6-foot-11 junior from White Bear Lake, Minnesota went 11-4 with a 3.89 earned run average in 2017, striking out 102 hitters in 108.1 innings. The 11 victories are the fourth-most in a single season in UK history.
As the Wildcats’ Friday night starter, Hjelle was even better in SEC play, going 7-1 with a 1.90 ERA, becoming the first player in school history to win SEC Pitcher of the Year. He is now 15-5 in two seasons, good for a .750 career winning percentage that ranks third on UK’s all-time chart.
Becker, a senior from Fairmont, Minnesota, shifts back to second base this season after playing primarily third base in 2017. The switch-hitter hit .287 with 48 runs, 16 extra-base hits, 46 RBI, 37 walks and seven stolen bases last season, and often worked opposing pitchers into deep counts. He spent the 2016 season as the Cats’ primary second baseman.