Lights, camera, action. The NKU baseball team recently announced that its game against the Kentucky Wildcats on May 12 will be broadcast on the SEC Network. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky.
“It’s a game that I already have circled on my calendar,” NKU Head Coach Todd Asalon said. “Whenever you play an in-state game like this, it’s a really big deal. I’m sure it will be a great atmosphere.”
The Wildcats are coming off a 35-win season and their eighth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance. They are seeking their first back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths since 1949 and 1950.
UK returns several standouts from its 2014 club, including pitcher Kyle Cody, who is rated by Baseball America as the 19th-best available prospect in this years Major League Baseball draft.
“It will be a good measuring stick to see where we stack up with the higher echelon teams,” Asalon said. “A couple years ago, I would’ve been more nervous playing a team like Kentucky, but now that we’ve got Division I experience under our belt, I’m more confident in our players to go down there and take care of business. I’m hoping we get a good fan turnout.”
This will be the first time in NKU baseball history that one of its games will be shown on television, and Asalon believes the national exposure will ultimately help with recruitment.
“I’m sure it will [help with recruitment], especially if we beat them,” Asalon said. “Kids want to be tested against the best teams in the country and that’s what we’re going to offer here. We want to show them that we can compete with anyone.”
According to PerfectGame.org, NKU’s recruiting class for the 2015 season is ranked 92nd, which ties Atlantic Sun Conference opponent Jacksonville. The Perfect Game USA college recruiting rankings are based on national high school player rankings, and colleges are given points for each recruit based on the players’ current ranking. The three signees include pitcher/first baseman Trey Ganns, infielder Dominic Mercurio, and pitcher/infielder Clark Pence.
“Recruiting is the lifeblood of any program, and we are trying to find the best student-athletes that fit our program and philosophy,” Asalon said. “I feel that we have done a great job so far with the kids we have signed. The Cincinnati area is heavily recruited and we realize that we need to be a force in that region, but also realize that we may have to extend our recruiting base as well to find the best players possible. It’s one of the biggest adjustments we’ve had to make as a Division I program.”
Although playing against Kentucky is a big selling point to recruits, there are still some other quality opponents on NKU’s 2015 schedule, including the Kennesaw State Owls, who are projected to finish first in the Atlantic Sun Conference Preseason Poll after posting a 40-24 record last season.
The Norse will welcome the defending A-Sun champion Owls to the Bill Aker Baseball Complex for a three-game series the second weekend of April.