Kentucky baseball has some offensive production to replace, but the pitching staff is coming together.
On Wednesday, the program announced that both Daniel Harper and Sean Harney were returning as super seniors for next season. Then on Thursday, starting left-hander Mason Hazelwood also announced a return to Lexington. This could all mean very good things for the outlook on the 2022 season for the Bat ‘Cats.
Harney was the most versatile pitcher on the staff last season. The UMass transfer started six games while also appearing in 12 others out of the bullpen. The right-hander led the team in ERA (4.50) during SEC play while logging 32.1 innings with 40 strikeouts and just 11 walks. The versatile worker could fill multiple roles next season.
— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) July 14, 2021
Out of the bullpen, Daniel Harper was the most reliable arm for Kentucky last spring. The right-hander from Kansas logged 31 innings in 23 appearances leading the relievers in WHIP (1.29) while recording 58 strikeouts and notching four wins.
Hazelwood was all set to be a weekend starter in SEC play until the in-state product was lost for the season in the second conference series of the year. The 6-foot-5 pitcher underwent Tommy John surgery but should be ready to roll by the time conference play starts in 2022.
These unexpected additions help add depth to a pitching staff that appears to have some quality arms. Cole Stupp is fresh off his first year as the Friday night starter for the Wildcats where the hard-throwing righty from Georgia logged at least six innings in 70 percent of his SEC starts. Stupp led the team in strikeouts while his ERA (4.76) and WHIP (1.41) must improve as a junior. However, this is a starting pitcher with All-SEC potential.
Zack Lee was also a full-time conference starter who produced a 7-inning, one-hit gem in a series-clinching win over Alabama in April. There were some growing pains for Lee, but this young pitcher has potential.
Meanwhile, Wyatt Hudepohl and Austin Strickland had some moments as rookies. Ryan Hagenow has starter potential as a sophomore. The additions of transfers Tyler Bosma (Miami, Oh.), Mag Cotto (South Carolina), Tyler Guilfoil (Lipscomb), and Darren Williams (Eastern Kentucky) will give pitching coach Dan Roszel quality depth.
Nick Mingione’s squad figures to have one of the deepest pitching staffs in the SEC next season. There are some worries about the offense, but the are arms available should be good enough to make an NCAA Tournament berth possible.