O'Brien's Bomb Not Enough as Softball Falls to Gamecocks

May 9, 2013

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LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 15 University of Kentucky softball team got a two-run home run from senior Alice O’Brien, who went 2-for-3 in the game with two RBI, but South Carolina scored four runs in the third inning and got a strong pitching effort from hurler Julie Sarratt, taking down the Wildcats 6-3 in an opening round game of the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament on Wednesday at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky.

Kentucky (38-18) will now wait to hear of an at-large selection into the NCAA Tournament. The selection show will be Sunday, May 12 at 10 p.m. ET on ESPNU. The Wildcats are currently ranked 15th in the nation in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 and 18th nationally in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25. Entering the SEC Tournament, UK had an NCAA RPI listing of No. 8 nationally.

The SEC Tournament will continue Thursday with four quarterfinal games starting at 11 a.m. ET. This is the first time in school history that Kentucky has hosted the SEC Tournament. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will conclude Saturday at 8 p.m. ET with the championship game on ESPN. A detailed schedule is below.

Several different ticket options are available for fans to come watch one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation. All-session tickets are available for the event in reserved chairback seats ($60), reserved bleacherback seats ($50) and general admission bleachers ($40). Fans can also purchase single-session tickets, which include admission to two games with the exception of session 5, which is the championship game. Single-session tickets are available in reserved bleacherback seats ($15), general admission adult ($10), general admission youth/seniors ages 3-18, 65 or older ($8) and general admission group rate for 10-plus people ($5).

Fans can reserve their seats in a number of ways:
-    Online by using My UK Account.
-    Calling the UK Ticket Office at (800) 928-2287 or (859) 257-1818.
-    Ordering in person at the UK Ticket Office in the Joe Craft Center.
-    In person – based on availability – at John Cropp Stadium, beginning Wednesday, May 8th at 2:00 pm. All ticket sales at the stadium are cash only.

Sarratt was impressive in the circle for South Carolina, throwing a complete game, allowing only three runs on five hits with six strikeouts. Kentucky’s hits came from O’Brien, who went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run – her seventh of the season – while senior infielder Kara Dill, sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner and freshman Christian Stokes had singles.

South Carolina (32-22) was led offensive by Kristen Struett, who went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored, while Chelsea Hawkins was 1-for-3 with a two-run home run. UK freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley started the game in the circle, throwing all seven innings, allowing six runs – five earned – on five hits with five strikeouts. Nunley is now 24-8 on the season.

Kentucky scored first in the game, getting a run on two hits and two South Carolina errors in the bottom of the second inning. A pair of one-out singles by O’Brien and Stokes started the rally. After a flyout for the second out, Dill hit a slow roller to second base that was mishandled by the second baseman, who then threw home to catch O’Brien in a rundown between third and home. The South Carolina catcher then threw wildly into leftfield, allowing O’Brien to score and giving UK the lead.

South Carolina answered with four runs in the top of the third inning. The inning started with a walk to Shelby Gonzales, who moved to second on a fielder’s choice that also allowed Codee Yeske to reach base. Samie Garcia and Alaynie Page then singled in runs to make it 2-1 Gamecocks before Nunley got a strikeout for the first out of the inning. Struett then singled through the left side of the infield to score another run before an error plated another Gamecock run and make it 4-1 South Carolina.

The Gamecocks added two more runs in the sixth on the two-run home run by Hawkins. UK started a rally in the seventh inning, getting a leadoff single by Joiner followed by a two-run homer by O’Brien. Krystal Smith then reached on an error and Dill singled up the middle, but the Wildcats could not extend the rally, falling 6-3.

For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.

2013 SEC Softball Tournament Schedule (All times Eastern)
Session 1
Game 1 - Wednesday, May 8 – No. 8 Alabama def. No. 9 Texas A&M 10-9
Game 2 - Wednesday, May 8 –No. 10 South Carolina def. No. 7 Kentucky 6-3
Session 2
Game 3 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Alabama – 11 a.m. – ESPNU
Game 4 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 4 LSU vs. No. 5 Georgia – 1:30 a.m. – ESPNU
Session 3
Game 5 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 3 Missouri vs. No. 6 Arkansas – 4 p.m. – ESPNU
Game 6 - Thursday, May 9 – No. 2 Tennessee vs. No. 10 South Carolina – 7:30 p.m. – ESPN
Session 4
Game 7 - Friday, May 10 - Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner – 3 p.m. – ESPNU
Game 8 - Friday, May 10 - Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner – 5:30 p.m. – ESPNU
Session 5
Game 9 - Saturday, May 11 - Championship Game – 8 p.m. – ESPN