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SEC Baseball 2011 Preview: Kentucky Wildcats


NOTE: We will get to all the teams, but we'll cover some of them next week. Since most teams are playing fairly easy non-conference series this weekend, there shouldn't be too much to update. Kentucky, as we shall soon see, is different.

Kentucky needed only to beat last year's awful Georgia team to go to the SEC tournament and maybe lock up a bid for the NCAA field. The Wildcats lost two of three and stayed home from all postseason play instead.
KEY LOSS: Chris Bisson
An All-SEC second baseman, Bisson started 51 games for the Wildcats and hit .329/.416/.467, while stealing 32 bases on 39 attempts. Bisson also walked a team-high 28 times, while his 69 hits for the season ranked third on the team overall.
KEY RETURN: Braden Kapteyn
Kapteyn hit .294/.403/.484 on the season -- which isn't great on the batting average (remember, metal bats), but is good enough to be second among returning starters. Kapteyn hit six home runs and will be one of the few players returning that saw a sizable amount of playing time in 2010.
The Wildcats start the season at College of Charleston, but only play the hosts once an early-season tournament. So the annual rivalry with the Cardinals, who didn't make the Baseball America poll but are No. 20 in Collegiate Baseball's, is the hardest tilt with a non-league team that Kentucky faces more than once.
You might have heard that Florida will probably be pretty good this year. Maybe even a tournament team. If Kentucky is on the bubble for either of the tournaments heading into this weekend, they'll probably spend the 2011 postseason in the same place they spent the 2010 postseason: At home.
GOING TO HOOVER? Probably not
The Wildcats lost a lot off a team that missed going to the SEC tournament last year. It's hard to see them improving their lot much in an SEC East that's at least as strong as 2010 and maybe even a bit better.
NCAAs? Unlikely
Anything is possible if the Cats get to Hoover -- but if accept that they're probably not going to make it there, the chances of going to the tournament are remote at best.