Hentschel latest grad transfer to seek seasoning at UK

Published 8:00 am Monday, June 24, 2024

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Cole Hentschel had never been to Lexington before taking a visit to the University of Kentucky earlier this month after he put his name into the transfer portal following his senior season at the University of Richmond.

“Kentucky was one of the first schools to reach out after I got in the portal. Right off the bat it felt like the place I wanted to be,” said Hentschel, who is from Pine Bluff, N.Y.

Hentschel is a relief pitcher who knows his role. He struck out 46 batters in 30 1/3 innings last season but also walked 21 batters and hit five. Opponents hit only .221 against him. His fastball has been clocked at 95 miles per hour and he says the 91 to 94 range is the norm.

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The Richmond transfer liked the way UK starter Trey Pooser and other pitchers were also “grad guys” like him who had a lot of success/development under UK pitching coach Dan Roszel.

“Their success and what the coaches did with one-year guys was a very big thing for me,” Hentschel, a left-hander, said. “I have been a back half of the bullpen guy for many years. My job is to come in and throw as hard as I can and beat hitters with my fastball, which is my best pitch. I have a slider and have been working hard on my change-up.

“I am a big energy guy who fits perfectly with Kentucky. They are energetic and loose and that is an environment I have dreamed of competing in,” Hentschel said.

It didn’t bother that UK already had commitments from seven other players, including five pitchers, in the transfer portal when he committed before UK played in the College World Series for the first time. He also knew even though Kentucky would return pitchers that it was also losing players who threw the bulk of the innings in 2024.

Scott Rouse (Radford), Chase Alderman (Eastern Kentucky), Nic McCay (South Dakota State), and Ryan Verdugo (Cal State-Bakersfield) are all right-handed pitchers transferring to UK along with Hentschel and Ethan Walker (Longwood), another lefty.

“I know they are losing a lot of innings, probably about 60 percent of their innings pitched this year. With the success you have seen with multiple guys from the portal it gives a lot of guys in the portal a lot of confidence they can come in and compete. The opportunity is there for players coming in but you still have to earn your spot,” the Richmond transfer said.

“The coaching staff tells you what they are looking for and then you have to earn what role you can. They have a solid freshman recruiting class but it helps to get grad guys with experience on the mound. You never know for sure what role you’ll have but you have confidence they will find the right role for you.”

Hentschel enjoyed his time at Richmond competing in the Atlantic 10 Conference but always dreamed of playing in the Southeastern Conference which had four of the eight teams in the College World Series, including both teams in the title series.

“I am fortunate I got to play at Richmond and had success with great teammates,” he said. “But this opportunity to play at the highest level is truly a dream come true for me. Who wouldn’t want to play in the SEC?”

Hentschel will arrive in Lexington in mid-July to work with UK’s strength coaches and Roszel to get ready for the fall season.

“Coach Mingione has done just a great job with the program and it is really trending in the right direction,” he said. “With what Kentucky did this year, our goal will be to continue that and I know the team will have the players and coaches to do that.”