LEXINGTON, Ky. – After facing off with top-25 ranked Auburn on the road last weekend, enduring a midweek contest against No. 11 Louisville on Wednesday, the schedule does not get any easier for the Kentucky softball team as it prepares to travel south to Knoxville, Tenn., for a three-game series at No. 9/10 Tennessee Friday-Sunday.
Kentucky and the Lady Vols will meet for a 6 p.m. ET tilt on Friday before resuming the series at 2 p.m. ET on Saturday. The final game of the series will take place at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon.
The Wildcats (15-17, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) enjoyed a terrific week on the road in conference action last week taking a series from the No. 18 Auburn Tigers in Auburn, Ala. It marked just the fourth series won by the Blue and White over Auburn and the first in school history captured on the road.
Junior Kara Dill continues to lead the offensive effort for the Wildcats with a .405 batting average, 26 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. Senior Brittany Cervantes has a team-high nine doubles with classmate Rachel Riley driving in a squad-best 21 runs.
Freshman Griffin Joiner has provided a steady presence at the plate in her first season in the Blue and White. Joiner is currently batting with a .315 clip, has three homers and has driven in 13. Sophomore Ellen Weaver boasts a .318 clip and had the bases-clearing double that clinched the series with Auburn.
In the pitching circle, the Wildcats continue to alter starters based on matchup with all four UK pitchers seeing action in at least eight games. Senior Chanda Bell is 8-6 with a 2.49 ERA and 92 strikeouts to lead the way. She tossed seven strikeouts in a loss to No. 11 Louisville on Wednesday to move her career total to 801. She is the first Wildcat pitcher in school history to top the 800 mark.
Tennessee (25-7, 7-4 SEC) swept Mississippi State on the road in its last SEC series. Prior to that series the Lady Vols met Alabama for a midweek doubleheader with the squads splitting the two games. UT’s win over the Tide marked the first loss of the season for Alabama.
The Lady Vols are paced at the dish by Raven Chavanne’s .427 average and 15 stolen bases. Lauren Gibson leads the team with nine homers with Madison Shipman brining in a squad-best 32 RBI.
Tennessee has a tremendous pitching tandem in sisters Ellen and Ivy Renfroe. Ellen Renfroe boasts an 18-1 record and a team-low 0.92 ERA. She has also struck out 183 batters on the season. Ivy Renfroe owns a 2.91 ERA and a 7-6 record.
A season ago Kentucky claimed the series over the Lady Vols in dramatic fashion. The Wildcats posted a 9-6 win on Friday night led by a home run from Alice O’Brien. Tennessee fought back with a 10-0 victory on Saturday setting the stage for a Sunday showdown.
Tennessee jumped out in front of Kentucky early, but a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh from Megan Yocke tied the score at four and forced the game into extra innings. Dill delivered a walk-off single through the right side to give the Wildcats the series win over the Lady Vols.
Tennessee and Kentucky also met in the SEC Tournament where the Lady Vols came out on top with a 4-1 win.
The Lady Vols own an all-time mark of 32-11 over Kentucky, but the Wildcats are 4-7 against Tennessee during the Rachel Lawson era.
For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK Softball Invitational and the 2012 UK softball season, log on to UKathletics.com.