Bat Cats look to end 9-game SEC losing streak at Ole Miss
Fresh off a thrilling 3-2 win over Louisville on Tuesday, the Kentucky baseball team returns to Southeastern Conference play at Mississippi, where they'll try to end a nine-game league losing streak. The three-game series starts on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Kentucky (17-17, 2-10 SEC) enters the series on its longest SEC losing skid since 2005. UK has fallen in consecutive sweeps against Alabama, No. 24 in Baseball America's poll, No. 3 South Carolina and Auburn. The Cats were outscored 64-32 in the three series.
Kentucky will start junior right-hander Alex Meyer (3-4, 3.74 ERA) on Friday against Ole Miss lefty Matt Crouse (6-2, 2.93 ERA).
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The bright spots at the plate for the Cats in SEC play this season have been junior infielders Braden Kapteyn and Thomas McCarthy, batting .348 and .326, respectively. Kapteyn leads the team with 14 RBI in league games and is fourth in the conference with 33 overall.
Paralyzed Georgia player recovering
Injured Georgia baseball player Johnathan Taylor is using his arms and regaining strength after breaking his neck in an outfield collision, though doctors were unsure Thursday whether he'll be able to regain use of his legs.
"He's breathing completely on his own and making progress every day," said Dr. Donald Peck Leslie, medical director of the Shepherd Center in Atlanta. Taylor was injured when he collided with center fielder Zach Cone in the third inning of a home game against Florida State on March 6. The junior left fielder was transferred from St. Mary's Hospital in Athens to the Shepherd Center five days later. He's expected to stay at the rehabilitation hospital for about another month before beginning outpatient treatment. Leslie was noncommittal when asked whether Taylor would be able to regain use of his legs. The Johnathan Taylor Fund has been established to help with his medical expenses, and donations will be collected instead of admission at the annual spring football game Saturday in Athens.
Purdue Pete back to his old self again
Purdue fans are welcoming back their old sideline mascot, Purdue Pete, after school officials shelved his unpopular, short-lived replacement. The university's move came Wednesday, only days after Purdue Pete's new full-bodied costume design was greeted with boos during last weekend's annual spring football game. The Journal & Courier of Lafayette reports that fans overwhelmingly preferred the older Purdue Pete outfit, an image that debuted in 1989 and features a student wearing an oversized mascot head with wide-open eyes.
"The fans have spoken, and we are listening," Purdue athletics director Morgan Burke said Wednesday.
The now-shelved new costume was the first full-body costume in the mascot's history. It cost about $7,500 and was made by a Wisconsin-based company that had won a university contract to construct the initial prototype.
Coa released from hospital
Jockey Eibar Coa has been released from a South Florida hospital, nearly two months after he injured his neck and broke his wrist in a fall during a race. Coa left Memorial Regional Hospital South in Hallandale Beach on Thursday. He was injured during a Feb. 18 race at Gulfstream Park. Coa had limited movement from the neck down after getting hurt. Hospital spokeswoman Marla Oxenhandler said Coa's determination as an athlete helped his recovery. Coa will continue with outpatient physical therapy.
Auburn plans statues for Heisman winners
Auburn Heisman Trophy winners Cam Newton, Bo Jackson and Pat Sullivan will have statues in their honor. Athletics Director Jay Jacobs said Wednesday in a letter to Auburn supporters that the 1,900-pound bronze statues will be unveiled on the east side of Jordan-Hare Stadium this academic year. They'll be 1½ times life-size. Jackson won the Heisman in 1985, Sullivan in 1971 and Newton in 2010. Auburn will also display a bust of John Heisman, the trophy's namesake who coached at Auburn from 1895-99.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Kansas administrator gets 57 months
A former associate director in charge of the University of Kansas ticket office and "gatekeeper" for stolen tickets was sentenced Thursday to 57 months in prison for her role in the $2 million conspiracy. Prosecutors accused Charlette Blubaugh, 44, of providing tickets for basketball and football games to others who then sold them for personal profit. Blubaugh and her husband, Thomas, both of Medford, Okla., pleaded guilty in January to a single count of conspiracy to defraud the United States through wire fraud, tax obstruction and interstate transportation of stolen property. She was also sentenced to pay a share of the more than $2 million in restitution, along with six others convicted in the conspiracy, and was ordered to spend three years under court supervision once she is released from prison. Her husband has been sentenced to a 46-month prison term. Blubaugh is the sixth defendant to be sentenced in the case. Former associate athletics director of development Ben Kirtland is set for sentencing on May 12.
■ Police say former Bears quarterback Bobby Douglass faces trespass and criminal damage charges following an incident with an ex-girlfriend at her suburban Chicago residence. Lake Forest Deputy Chief Glenn Burmeister said Douglass was arrested Wednesday night. He said Douglass and his girlfriend had recently broken up and Douglass allegedly went to talk to her, tried to force open the door of her residence and damaged the frame.
Study: Brazil's airports won't be ready
It will be difficult to get most Brazilian airports ready in time for the 2014 World Cup, according to a government study released Thursday. Renovation work in 10 of the 13 airports that will be used during the monthlong tournament will not be completed in time unless there are changes in the investment plans made by Brazil's airport authority, Brazil's Economic Research Institute said in its study.
The last word
Connecticut junior Kemba Walker, who declared for the NBA Draft on Tuesday, said the school's decision to put his name and number on the wall of its basketball arena helped him decide:
"I think from that point out it did, because it was like Coach just kicked me out. It says 2008 to 2011."