Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky softball gets an NCAA win; Kentucky baseball needs a win; Big Blue Links

Kentucky’s Abbey Cheek (11) singles in the fifth inning of UK’s 6-0 win over DePaul in an NCAA regional softball game at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington on Friday, May 19, 2017.
Kentucky’s Abbey Cheek (11) singles in the fifth inning of UK’s 6-0 win over DePaul in an NCAA regional softball game at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington on Friday, May 19, 2017. palcala@herald-leader.com

Big Blue Links for Saturday:

▪ Florida rolls over Kentucky baseball 14-3 to clinch at least a tie for SEC East title, reports Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun. Kentucky needs a win in the series and regular season finale on Saturday to tie Gators for first in the division. It’s a 1 p.m. start in Gainesville. UK coach Nick Mingione received his first ejection of the season on Friday night.

▪ It’s a must-win Saturday for Kentucky baseball, reports Mark Sonka of the Herald-Leader.

▪ Kentucky softball waited out a delay then blanked DePaul 6-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at John Cropp Stadium. UK next plays Illinois at noon on Saturday. Illinois beat Marshall 3-2 in 12 innings in Friday’s first game.

▪ Mohammed Bamba’s rationale for college decision may soon help Calipari land more top recruits, reports Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader. Bamba formed a bond with Texas coach Shaka Smart while on the U18 USA team last summer. Smart coached that team. John Calipari coaches the U19 USA team this summer.

▪ Kentucky women’s basketball picked up a commitment from Rhyne Howard, reports Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader. Howard is a four-star guard from Cleveland, Tenn who chose Kentucky over defending national champion South Carolina and Purdue.

▪ Stephen Hargis of the Chattanooga Times Free Press has more on the Howard commitment.

▪ Transfers are raising questions about Tennessee women’s basketball, writes John Adams of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Junior guard Alexa Middleton and sophomore guard Te’a Cooper.

▪ Missouri basketball coach Cuonzo Martin is excited to add Jeremiah Tillmon, reports Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star. A 6-foot-10 prospect, Tillmon had originally signed with Illinois but was allowed out of his letter after the school fired head coach John Groce. Both Martin and Tillmon are from East Saint Louis.

▪ Florida center John Egbunu will return for senior season, reports Kevin Brockway of the Gainesville Sun. The 6-foot-11 center averaged 7.8 points and 6.6 rebounds last season before tearing his ACL on Feb. 14. He decided to test the NBA waters but was not able to workout for any teams.

▪ Virginia grad transfer Darius Thompson commits to Western Kentucky, reports Brad Stephens of the Bowling Green Daily News. A Murfreesboro, Tenn. native, Thompson played one season at Tennessee before transferring to Virginia, where he played two seasons. He averaged 6.2 points per game last season for the Cavaliers.

▪ College football coaches are anxious abut the early signing period, reports Josh Kendall of The State. High school prospects will now be able to sign national letters between Dec. 20 through the 22nd this year.

SEC baseball standings

East

SEC

Overall

Florida

20-9

39-15

Kentucky

19-10

38-17

Vanderbilt

15-13

33-21

Missouri

13-16

34-21

South Carolina

12-17

31-23

Georgia

11-18

25-30

Tennessee

7-20

27-24

West

SEC

Overall

LSU

20-9

38-17

Arkansas

17-11

38-15

Miss State

17-12

34-21

Texas A&M

16-13

36-19

Auburn

16-13

34-21

Ole Miss

13-16

31-24

Alabama

5-24

19-34

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