Is it “mid-week starter” or “weekday starter,” the term used to designate a school’s less talented pitcher, who takes the mound in a one off game not contested during a weekend series?
Most schools have an ace — two, if lucky — at best, and play most of their games in three game weekend series. Thus, for the occasional mid-week encounter, a team’s 3d(?) or 4th starter will hurl the first pitch.
Thus it was left to freshman southpaw Josh Rogers (2-3, 3.91) — a New Albany kid — to take the mound against Kentucky in both of the arch rival’s encounters this season. He took the loss in an 8-3 setback on April Fool’s Day in Lexington. Then again in a 4-2 Tax Day L at Patterson Field.
Which is the lede here, because, since Louisville’s #2 hurler Jared Ruxer (7-1, 2.27) might still be injured, Rogers may get a chance for redemption in that the NCAA has yet again set up the distinct possibility of a U of L vs. UK matchup in the NCAA tournament. This time of year, of course, on the diamond not the hardwood or gridiron.
But, such are the vagaries and permutations of the opening regional’s double elimination format, the Cats and Cards might not meet at all, given they are on the opposite sides of the bracket. The Cards open with Kent State; the Cats with Kansas.
Or, should both win their opening games, it could be, might be, we all hope it will be that the in state rivals meet once, twice or even thrice, with the regional winner advancing to the super regional against the survivor among Florida State, Alabama, Kennesaw State and Georgia Southern.
Starting Friday, Third & Central1 will be Action Central.
The Cards (45-15) have been ranked higher than the Cats (35-23) all season. U of L sits at #13 in Baseball America’s poll, and #12 in Collegiate Baseball’s rankings. The Cats are #22 and #26. Thus, much to the consternation of conspiracy theorists residing in the Big Blue Nation, the regional was awarded to Louisville, despite Kentucky’s clear, regular-season superiority on the diamond.2
None of which really matters now, because: 1) it’s the proverbial “new season,” 2) Kent State is not, as my grandmother would say, “chopped liver,” having made it to the CWS season before last, besting the Cats twice along the route, 3) Kansas is legit, having spent part of the season in the Top 25, and 4) baseball, as Guru Yogi once stated, “is never over until it’s over.”
Louisville stumbled its way into the tourney last season, then battled its way to a second CWS appearance ever, with a regional title and a stunning sweep in NashVegas over highly regarded Vandy in the Super Regional.
Kentucky’s nine would love to join its distaff counterparts, who have qualified for the Softball CWS, after besting UCLA.
Kent State and Kansas could care less about all the dark & bloody ground folderol.
What a treat du printemps this regional is going to be.
— Seedy K