LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky softball team will return home and host South Carolina in Southeastern Conference action after spending two consecutive weekends on road in league play. Kentucky and the Gamecocks will begin a three-game set on Friday at 6 p.m. ET at the UK Softball Complex. The Saturday and Sunday contests are both slated for 1 p.m. ET starts.
The Wildcats (16-19, 3-6 SEC) have not been home for conference action since the March 9-11 series with top-ranked Alabama to open the SEC schedule. UK traveled to Auburn and captured a series from the Tigers, before earning one upset bid over top-15 ranked Tennessee last week.
Junior Kara Dill leads the offensive effort for the Blue and White with 50 hits on the season and a .407 batting average. She is the lone player on the roster to record a double, triple and home run this season. She also paces the squad with 15 stolen bases.
Freshman Griffin Joiner has logged a .307 average thus far in her first-season with UK. In addition to her offensive contributions, Joiner has started more than 30 games at catcher and has successfully thrown out eight base runners attempting to steal while leading the squad with more than 225 putouts on the year.
In the circle, the Wildcats have yet to repeat a starter in the same series. Seniors Chanda Bell and Rachel Riley and sophomores Lauren Cumbess and Ellen Weaver have all made seven or more starts with no player starting more than 11 games. Bell owns a team-leading 2.41 ERA with 101 strikeouts and is on the verge of cracking UK’s top-10 for strikeouts in a single-season for the fourth consecutive season.
South Carolina travels to Lexington owning a 22-16 overall record and a 2-9 mark in SEC play. The Gamecocks have faced just one top-25 ranked team this season and fell in all three meetings at fourth-ranked Florida.
USC is led at the dish by a .414 average from Lauren Lackey. Lackey has swiped 10 bags and driven in 16 runs. Evan Childs owns a .313 average and a team-high nine homers and 33 RBI. Kristen Struett was just tabbed SEC Freshman of the Week and is batting .545 in 11 at-bats on the year.
The Gamecocks utilize a three-person pitching rotation with Katelynn Howser working a team-high 94 innings and striking out 66. Audrey Broyles boasts a team-best 2.87 ERA and is limiting opponent batters to a .239 average.
South Carolina owns a 34-16 overall record against the Wildcats in the all-time series. Kentucky has bridged the gap under the direction of Rachel Lawson who has led UK to a 7-5 record against South Carolina in the past four seasons including a 2-1 mark a season ago.
Live stats and the most up-to-date information regarding the UK softball season can be found at UKathletics.com.