No. 17/16 Kentucky Travels to Winthrop Invitational
LEXINGTON, Ky. –The No. 17/16 Kentucky softball team will close out its 21-game, four-week road trip to begin the season this weekend in Rock Hill, S.C., to compete in the 2016 Winthrop Invitational hosted by Winthrop University. Kentucky is off to its best start through 16 games in program history, sporting a 14-2 overall record and four wins over ranked opponents through the opening three weekends of the season.
This weekend in the Palmetto State, Kentucky will play five games over three days with Friday’s games against Albany and Lehigh, Saturday competition against UNC Charlotte and host Winthrop before the tournament finale against Winthrop again at 10 a.m. ET.
All four UK pitchers pitched a complete game last weekend as Kentucky went 5-0 to claim the Chattanooga Frost Classic title a week ago in the Volunteer State. Erin Rethlake had a no-hitter and recorded a career-high 14 strikeouts - joining Shannon Smith (11), Kelsey Nunley (12) and Meagan Prince (12) who all recorded strikeout career-highs in their tournament performances. The staff ERA over the tournament was 0.88, recorded 49 strikeouts and allowed a total of eight hits in five games.
Freshman Katie Reed continued her hot-hitting start to the season, as the St. Louis, Mo., native broke the school record – and has now registered a 16-game hitting streak to start the season – the longest hitting streak in Kentucky softball history. The previous high was 15 games set by Kara Dill in 2013. Reed is batting .520 on the season with 26 hits, 18 runs scored, 12 RBI and today went 2-for-4 with an RBI-single, and an RBI-triple – the first of her young career.
UK has its most runs scored through 16 games of a season (104) since 2007 (131). This season also marks the largest run differential through 16 games of a season (+63) since 2011 (+65).
Albany opened its season 1-3 at the Green & Gold Classic in Jacksonville, Florida last weekend. Freshman Sarah Petzold leads the Great Danes with a .462 batting average and .846 slugging %. Of the 13 times she has been at bat she’s recorded three runs off her six hits. Currently leading the team with an 8.85 ERA is sophomore Devin Durando who finished the 2015 season with a 3.60 ERA.
Defending Patriot League Tournament Champions completed their season opener at the UNCG Invitational last weekend in Greensboro, North Carolina with a 4-1 finish. Named to the 2015 First-Team All-Patriot League is senior MacKenzie Velasquez who leads the Lehigh Mountain Hawks with a .583 batting average. Junior Christine Campbell produced a 2.06 ERA in the three winning games she appeared in and joined teammate Velasquez in the 2015 first team All-Patriot League after a 1.63 ERA season. Campbell tossed her first career no-hitter last May at Colgate.
Runner-up of the 2015 Conference USA Championship, the Charlotte 49ers enter this weekend with an impressive 12-2 record. Sophomore Becca Shipper, who was a member of the 2015 National Championship and SEC Championship team at the University of Florida, leads the 49ers with a .568 batting average. She has started in all 14 games and contributed 16 runs off her 25 hits to post a team-high slugging average of .705. Leading the team with a 1.24 ERA is redshirt senior and 2015 Second-Team All-Conference USA selection, Lexi Betancourt. The Eagles are coming off a 3-2 finish at the Citrus Classic in Orlando, Florida where they received their first loss of the season to No. 22 UCF.
The Eagles are 7-7 heading into the Winthrop Invitational after winning all four games at the Winthrop/ADIDAS tournament last weekend. Right-handed pitcher Dallas King returns for her senior year leading the Eagles with a 6.14 ERA. One of Winthrop’s newest additions is freshman Blake Wallert who currently holds a .292 batting average. The Eagles finished the 2015 season third in the Big South.
Kentucky in the 2016 Winthrop Invitational
Rock Hill, S.C. – Terry Field – Winthrop University
Friday, March 4
11 a.m. ET – Kentucky (home) vs. Albany (away) | Live Stats
1 p.m. ET – Kentucky (away) vs. Lehigh (home) | Live Stats
Saturday, March 5
1 p.m. ET – Kentucky (home) vs. Charlotte (away) | Live Stats
5 p.m. ET – Kentucky (away) vs. Winthrop (home) | Live Stats
Sunday, March 6
10 a.m. ET – Kentucky (home) vs. Winthrop (away) | Live Stats
For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.