Friday, January 30, 2015

UK Baseball 300LEXINGTON, Ky. (2/11/14) – Dating back to Justin Scutchfield, Sean Coughlin, Marcus Nidiffer and Luke Maile, Kentucky has had a cadre of talented catchers.

But never in program history have the Wildcats had a player earn a spot on the All-Southeastern Conference Freshman Team.
 
In 2013, Greg Fettes became the first UK player to be voted on the All-SEC Freshman Team by the league coaches.
 
“That is pretty awesome to know that the guys that have been here, Nidi (Marcus Nidiffer), Maile, (Michael) Williams and MT (Micheal Thomas); there have been some great catchers here before me,” Fettes said. “To be the first catcher to be named that is pretty awesome.”
 
A native of Madison Heights, Mich., Fettes redshirted during the 2012 season, as UK was blessed with Maile, Williams and Thomas behind the plate en route to a school-record 45-win season.

He worked hard in the weight room during the redshirt season, as Maile and Williams rotated behind the dish.
 
“Where I come from in Michigan, high school baseball is just okay. It is not a great competition,” Fettes said. “So for myself, the speed of the game, how much faster it is then high school baseball, that was a challenge itself.”
 
With arm strength and tantalizing raw power, Fettes used the year to develop in the weight room and improve as a receiver.
 
“In college and in the SEC, you have better pitchers, older guys who are bigger and stronger and faster,” Fettes said. “As a catcher, my biggest challenge was receiving because those guys are throwing harder and it is also moving. Coming in as a freshman, you are already having your head spinning because you are young, in a new environment, and you have all these other guys looking at you. The game is faster, you have better players around you and you press a little bit. With all the failure in college baseball, it kind of weighs on you that first year and then it takes a little while to figure it out.”
 
Fettes served primarily as the back-up catcher to veteran and defensive dynamo Micheal Thomas during 2013, before emerging as a right-handed hitting weapon in key situations late in the year.
 
Fettes finished the year batting .250 with five doubles, three homers and nine RBI, sporting a 9-to-12 walk-strikeout ratio. Of his 15 hits as a freshman, eight went for extra bases.
 
“I learned how to be patient and really go get what you want,” Fettes said. “I really didn’t play that much in the beginning of the season but I really wanted to play and to play here. I felt like I went out and never gave up. When I got my opportunities I took it and ran with it and did well.”
 
Among those opportunities were his three home runs, with each bomb coming as a key shot in SEC action. His first career home run came as a two-run, game-tying shot vs. South Carolina ace Jordan Montgomery.
 
In a historic UK series win at No. 16 Ole Miss, Fettes belted a double vs. ace Bobby Wahl in the opener, and hit his biggest blast of the year, a game-tying blast in the rubber match.

His first career homer at Cliff Hagan Stadium came in a matchup vs. No. 14 Arkansas and flame-thrower Ryne Stanek, and he also added a double against the Razorback ace.
 
His progress defensively was also evident, a key ingredient in UK head coach Gary Henderson’s ability to construct an effective pitching staff. Henderson annually emphasizes controlling the running game from the mound and behind the plate, with UK allowing the fewest stolen bases in the SEC in five of his 10 seasons guiding UK pitchers. It is an element of the game that has taken on increased importance in an era of less potent bat standards.
 
“With Hendu controlling the running game and the skill of our pitchers and catchers, it just shuts it down,” Fettes said. “We really don’t have to worry about people running. Behind the plate, I can get more strikes for my pitchers. Not having to jump out and control the running game, it allows us to stay in there and get more called strikes.”
 
Entering the 2014 season, Fettes is primed for a big season, along with a veteran and talented UK weekend pitching rotation.
 
“You have A.J. (Reed), who is going to give you seven innings guaranteed,” Fettes said. “Then you have (Kyle) Cody, a flamethrower, you are getting 98 (mph). Then Shep (Chandler Shepherd) you are getting a guy that throws hard and throws like seven pitches. A.J. and Shep, it is their third year; they have played in the SEC for two years. And Cody has grown too and those two have taken Cody under their wing. They have pulled him in and we are going to need those three guys to win.”
 
Over the recent history of Kentucky baseball, a common element among its most successful teams – 2006, 2008, 2012 – was a talented, veteran platoon behind the plate. With Thomas, a fifth-year senior who started 41 games behind the dish in 2013, and sophomore Zach Arnold, a lockdown defender in his own right, UK is armed with a trio of catching talents.
 
“We play 56 regular-season games and that is a lot of baseball,” Fettes said. “Just having some options, gives you a fresh guy. Catcher is the most important position out there. You are controlling the pitchers and everyone else. Just having the catcher fresh, with a clear head and in our case you have three guys, means we can have fresh legs throughout the season. That is most important because when you get through those 56 games and get into the SEC Tournament and Regionals, we aren’t going to be burned out. We are going to have fresh legs and we are going to be ready to win in Omaha.”
 
SurfKY News
Information provided by UK Athletics

© Copyright 2015 SurfKY News Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, or rewritten without permission. SurfKY News encourages you to share this story by using one of the social media links below.

In Other News...

Lady Trojans Topple McCracken County

PADUCAH, Ky. (1/28/15) — The Webster County Lady Trojans claimed their fourth straight win convincingly, defeating host… Read More

Lady Aces Handle Harlan, Advance in All 'A' Classic

FRANKFORT, Ky. (1/28/15) — Owensboro Catholic passed its opening round test in the Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic,… Read More

Most Read This Week

January 28, 2015 16700

UPDATED: Several Involved in Two-Vehicle Accident

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 23, 2015 10012

Local Church's Faith Restored; 71 Souls Saved…

in Video by Gary Gates, SurfKY News
January 26, 2015 6990

KSP Arrests Two on Child Porn Charges; MPD…

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Trooper Stu Recke
January 25, 2015 6843

Dean’s List Announced

in Top News For All Sites Touching Hopkins by Joyce Riggs
January 28, 2015 6197

Nortonville Man Accused of Meth Possession,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
January 23, 2015 6122

Parents Face Charges after Marijuana Joint Falls…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Jail
January 23, 2015 4903

Nortonville Woman Charged for Meth Possession

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office/Hopkins County Detention Center
January 26, 2015 4698

School Board Votes 3-2 for Utility Tax

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News

Most Read This Month

January 08, 2015 21871

Woman Claiming to be 'Lady Gaga' Tours Town in…

in Top News For All Sites by Madisonville Police Department
January 15, 2015 21596

UPDATE: Fatality Victim's Name Officially Released

in Top News For All Sites by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News

Stories Trending Today

January 28, 2015 16700

UPDATED: Several Involved in Two-Vehicle Accident

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 28, 2015 6197

Nortonville Man Accused of Meth Possession,…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Madisonville Police Department/Hopkins County Detention Center
January 29, 2015 4230

Man Charged with Sexual Abuse of Child

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News
January 28, 2015 4068

Tax Recall Committee Formed Day After School…

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 28, 2015 2758

Madisonville Police Arrest Reports - Jan. 28, 2015

in Hopkins News by Madisonville Police Department
January 29, 2015 2544

UPDATE - Students Have until Jan. 31 to Enter…

in General News For All Sites by James R. Comer
January 27, 2015 2532

Whitfield Works to Combat Prescription Drug Abuse

in General News For All Sites by Marty Irby
January 28, 2015 2333

Muhlenberg District Court Fines Handed Down

in Local (Muhlenberg) Top News by Charles W. Riley II, SurfKY News
January 28, 2015 2061

Hopkins County Sheriff's Reports Released

in Hopkins News by Hopkins County Sheriff's Office
January 28, 2015 1552

Letter to the Editor - Month of Mentors

in Hopkins News by Mallory D. Johnson
January 28, 2015 1511

Kentucky Lottery Results for Tuesday Jan. 27, 2015

in General News For All Sites by Kentucky Lottery
January 28, 2015 1475

Old City Hall Space to be 'First United Bank…

in Local (Hopkins) Top News by Doreen Dennis, SurfKY News