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Lawson, UK softball prepare for SEC Tournament

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SBL 09_10 UK_AP Game1 Web 60.jpgThe UK softball team (31-24, 13-15 Southeastern Conference) will make its second consecutive SEC Tournament appearance later this week and only the third league tournament since the program's inception in 1997.

The sixth-seeded Cats will take on third-seeded LSU on Thursday at noon ET in Fayetteville, Ark. Last year, as the No. 6 seed, UK defeated No. 3 seed Georgia for the program's first postseason victory.

Head coach Rachel Lawson was on an SEC teleconference Monday to field questions about the upcoming SEC Tournament and where her team is at is tries to make its second consecutive NCAA Tournament. The full transcript is below:

Question: Can you please comment on your team as it prepares for LSU?
Lawson: The team feels pretty good right now. They're psyched. They keep talking about how they feel like pros because it's summer break without school and everything. They're in pretty good spirits and we're just trying to get everything ready for Thursday.

Question: You had some success in the tournament last year as a No. 6 seed. You're in the same spot this year. How can you benefit from that and is that something you can use going into the week?
Lawson: The cool thing about it is -- obviously we know all the teams in the SEC Tournament are tremendous and they can pretty much beat everybody -- but we feel pretty good about the fact that we have been able to beat some of the top teams as well. We're confident and just being in the tournament last year was a big step for us. Nobody had really understood how to go to postseason play or how long a season could be and all that. It really helps as the season goes on with the grind or working through the SEC and everything. I just think a year of experience is really going to help us this year.

Question: Who are your starting candidates for Thursday and what is the setup is of your staff?
Lawson: That's going to be interesting going into Thursday. We've done a pretty good with all our pitchers typically finishing their games, so that's something we've usually gone with. Last time we played LSU, which was just about a week ago, they did a pretty good job. We didn't do a very good job in the circle of shutting them down. Amber Matousek actually did the best job so we're looking heavily at her. We have been all year going with Rachel Riley and Chanda Bell as well, so we're kind of seeing how they're feeling going into this week and then we'll make that decision probably Wednesday night.

Question: Taking a look at Kentucky's schedule, I think a lot of our eyes popped when we saw that Michigan was in the middle of all that conference play. What did the team learn about itself playing the Wolverines, the No. 2 team in the country?
Lawson: First of all, Michigan, I don't know how many people have had an opportunity to play up there, but it is an awesome environment. It's got a great facility and how the stadium is set up, it's a very loud stadium and they have a great crowd. So for us, first and foremost, it was a great tune-up for the SEC Tournament and hopefully going into regionals. That was the first thing was to just be in that environment. We did a really good job that weekend of, offensively, we put up a lot of hits. We probably outhit them. We didn't do as good of a job as we normally do in the circle and defensively, so that was a little disappointing, but we feel confident that we can bounce back in that part of our game. We just felt good about the offensive numbers we put up and the runs we were able to put up against a great Michigan team.

Question: What was Michigan's reaction to your play?
Lawson: They're pretty stoic. I'll be honest with you, after the game we were kind of like "ugh," because you never like to lose. Their fans came up to us and they were so impressed by the effort that we put out and the fact that we had them on the ropes twice. They actually said that we were one of the best teams -- if not the best team -- that had come into (there to play them). The fans actually came up to our team and were talking to them, so we thought that was a really interesting environment to be in. Overall, we feel good about how we played in Michigan. We weren't satisfied with the fact that we lost, but we feel pretty hopeful and feel confident about going into this next weekend.

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