No. 20 softball resumes SEC action at South Carolina

LEXINGTON, Ky. – After a four-game non-conference stretch, the No. 20 University of Kentucky softball team will resume its 2013 Southeastern Conference schedule when it travels to face South Carolina for a three-game series at the Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field this weekend in Columbia, S.C.

The series will get started Friday with a 7 p.m. ET first pitch, followed by a 4 p.m. ET first pitch on Saturday and 1 p.m. ET first pitch on Sunday. Live stats and live video from all three games will be available online through the links provided below. Fans can also get real-time updates on Twitter by following @UKSoftball.

After the series, UK will return to Lexington to face Marshall on Tuesday, April 9 at 5 p.m. ET in a rescheduled game from an earlier rainout before a doubleheader at Eastern Kentucky on Wednesday, April 10. UK has a big weekend planned on April 12-14 vs. Florida as it will officially open the newly constructed UK Softball Complex. The weekend will feature numerous promotions to introduce UK fans to the new facility, including a grand opening ceremony on Saturday. Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for more information on the weekend’s events. Admission to all home games is free of charge.

The Wildcats enter the series ranked 20th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 and No. 21 in USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25. UK has been in the top 25 of both polls since entering the rankings on Feb. 12. Kentucky was receiving votes in both preseason polls. The Wildcats also sit 13th nationally in the NCAA RPI ranking.

This is the first SEC action for Kentucky since it swept Mississippi State, who was receiving votes in both polls at the time, two weekends ago in Lexington. The sweep gave Kentucky a winning record in SEC play, moving its conference record to 5-4. UK started SEC play by taking two of three games from Ole Miss before dropping all three games at highly ranked LSU the following weekend.

Kentucky is coming off a midweek loss on Wednesday night at in-state foe No. 11 Louisville. Junior infielder Krystal Smith had an RBI double in the game, driving in freshman outfielder Sylver Samuel, who reached on an infield single. Junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess received the loss in the game after throwing two innings and allowing three runs. Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw the final four innings in relief, allowing two runs on three hits.

Freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann leads Kentucky in hitting this season with a .355 (22-for-62) batting average, including a double, two home runs and 11 RBI. Cumbess is third on the team in hitting at .333 (35-for-105) with six doubles and four homers, while sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner is hitting .322 (29-for-90) with a team high in doubles with eight, home runs with eight and RBI with 28. Senior Alice O’Brien is third on the team with 21 RBI, while freshman Maisie Steed is second in home runs with six.

In the circle, Kentucky has been led by Nunley, who has a 15-4 record with a team-high 133.1 innings pitched and team-low 2.05 ERA. Nunley, who’s 15 wins rank her tied for sixth on the UK single-season record list for wins, has 106 strikeouts this season while opponents are hitting .208 against her. In her 11 starts this season, Nunley is 7-4 with a 2.17 ERA, throwing 71 innings with 59 strikeouts, while in her 14 relief appearances, the rookie hurler is 8-0 with a 1.91 ERA, throwing 62.1 innings with 47 strikeouts.

Cumbess is second on the team in pitching with a 6-3 record and a 2.76 ERA. The native of Normal, Ill., has thrown 66 innings this season with 56 strikeouts. Junior Ellen Weaver is 1-2 this season with a 4.08 ERA in 24 innings pitched, while freshman Katie Henderson is 2-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 14 innings pitched.

The Gamecocks enter the weekend with a 19-14 record, including a 1-8 mark in conference play. USC is coming off a 5-0 midweek home win against Appalachian State after dropping all three games last weekend at highly ranked Missouri.

Senior utility player Samie Garcia leads the team with a .429 (48-for-112) batting average, including nine doubles, seven triples, one homer and 16 RBI. Junior infielder Dana Hathorn is second on the team with a .340 (34-for-100) batting average, adding three doubles, one home run and 19 RBI, while junior outfielder Chelsea Hawkins leads the team with six home runs. Freshman outfielder Alaynie Page paces the squad with 26 RBI.

Senior pitcher Audrey Broyles leads the team in wins in the circle with a 7-5 record and a 3.57 ERA in 68.2 innings, while freshman Katie Marks is 5-7 with a 4.15 ERA in 60.2 innings pitched. Sophomore Julie Sarratt is 3-2 this season with a 3.13 ERA in 38 innings pitched.

South Carolina leads the all-time series against Kentucky 35-18, including an 18-8 mark in games played in Columbia, S.C. The Wildcats are 9-6 against the Gamecocks under sixth-year head coach Rachel Lawson, including a 4-2 mark in Columbia. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series in games played in Lexington 10-15 and at neutral sites 2-0. UK has played 53 games against USC all-time, marking the second-longest series in program history. The longest series is 57 all-time games against Georgia.


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