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Nick Lopez and Ryan Waldschmidt earn All-SEC honors

IMG_8756by:Daniel Hager05/20/24

DanielHagerKSR

Kentucky grad transfer DH Nick Lopez and left fielder Ryan Waldschmidt were both named to All-SEC teams, the conference announced Monday.

Lopez was named to the First Team at the DH/UT position, and Waldschmidt made Second Team as an outfielder.

Nick Lopez and Ryan Waldschmidt become the 12th and 13th All-SEC players to play at Kentucky in the Nick Mingione era (2017-present). Lopez is the seventh to make First Team, while Waldschmidt is the sixth to make Second Team. The entire list is below:

First-Teamers: OF Tristan Pompey (2017), SP Sean Hjelle (2017), RHP Logan Salow (2017), 1B Kole Cottam (2018), DH/UT Luke Heyer (2018), RHP Tyler Guilfoil (2021), DH/UT Nick Lopez (2024)

Second-Teamers: C Troy Squires (2017), 1B Evan White (2017), 2B Riley Mahan (2017), RHP Zack Thompson (2019), 2B Émilien Pitre (2023), OF Ryan Waldschmidt (2024)

Nick Lopez | First Team DH/UT

Nick Lopez was the biggest surprise for Nick Mingione’s squad this season.

Brought in over the offseason from USC as a utility piece, Lopez blossomed into one of the best players in the SEC. Along with his stellar play, he also emerged into a fan-favorite due to his larger than life personality and Big L-esque mustache. In 184 at-bats, Lopez hit .380 with 20 doubles, six home runs, and 47 RBI. His 20 doubles ranked second in the SEC, just behind Tennessee’s Blake Burke (23).

Photo by Caleb Bowlin

Ryan Waldschmidt | Second Team OF

After a promising first year in 2023 following his transfer from Charleston Southern, a big 2024 was expected from the left fielder. However, he tore his ACL playing summer ball, leaving his status for the 2024 season up in the air.

At Kentucky Baseball Media Day, Nick Mingione claimed that Waldschmidt would be back by mid-March, but he shocked everyone when he made his season debut at the DH position on February 17.

Waldschmidt had one of the great offensive seasons in Kentucky program history this season, as he hit .370 with 16 doubles, 11 home runs, 39 RBI, and 23 stolen bases. His stats against SEC competition were even better, as he hit .405 (third in SEC) with a .510 OBP (fourth in SEC), 1.213 OPS (fifth in SEC), 49 hits (T-second in SEC), 12 doubles (T-first in SEC), and 19 stolen bases (first in SEC).

He’s notched at least three hits in a game 11 times this season, and thrived in his role as the leadoff batter all season long.

Photo by Tyler Ruth | UK Athletics

Along with Lopez and Waldschmidt’s All-SEC honors, second baseman Émilien Pitre, third baseman Mitch Daly, and right-handed pitcher Mason Moore were named to the SEC All-Defensive Team.

Kentucky will be the No. 3 overall seed in the 2024 SEC Baseball Tournament, which begins Tuesday, May 21 in Hoover, Alabama. The Cats will play the winner of No. 6 Georgia/No. 11 LSU on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. EST/9:30 a.m. CST.

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2024-06-20