Kentucky Hosts Top-10 Ranked Alabama
March 15, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky will open its 2010 home Southeastern Conference slate with top-10 ranked Alabama and a reigning College World Series participant on Tuesday. This marks the second consecutive season that the two teams will square off in a mid-week doubleheader. First pitch is set for a 1:30 p.m. ET start.
The Wildcats endured a tough week last week as the Blue and White charted a 1-3 record, with two of those losses coming in extra innings. The Blue and White opened their 2010 home slate last week against 18th ranked and in-state rival Louisville. The Cardinals bettered UK by a 3-0 margin in eight innings. UK then picked up its first conference win of the season with a 5-3 victory at Auburn. Seniors Molly Johnson and Destinee Mordecai hit game-changing home runs to seal the victory for the Wildcats.
In the rubber match with the Tigers, sophomore pitcher Rachel Riley tossed eight scoreless innings and struck out four batters. However, Auburn found enough offense to earn an RBI walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth for the decisive win. Junior Megan Yocke led the bats with a .400 batting average and reached base on seven occasions. She also tossed all three base stealers in three attempts last week from her catcher position.
No. 7 Alabama enters the mid-week matchup with Kentucky with a 17-6 overall record and a 2-1 mark in the SEC. The Crimson Tide earned a pair of wins over No. 4 Georgia in a three-game set this weekend in Athens. For the season Alabama has posted five wins over top-15 ranked opponents.
The Crimson Tide are led offensively by Kayla Braud who is batting .463 this season. Braud has also a team-best four doubles and 12 stolen bases.
Alabama has used a rotation of four different pitchers in the circle including the reigning SEC Player of the Year in Charlotte Morgan and three-year starter Kelsi Dunne. The duo is a combined 9-5 on the year, while Dunne leads the team with 114 strikeouts on the season.
Alabama has dominated the series with the Wildcats and owns a 34-1 all-time mark against the Blue and White. Kentucky's lone victory against the Crimson Tide came in 2004 in Lexington. The two squads met three times a season ago, including a semi-final match up in the SEC Championship Tournament.
After a history-making win in the opening round of the SEC Tournament the Kentucky softball team was on the verge of another upset of a top-10 ranked opponent in the second round of the SEC tournament in 2009. Kentucky took fifth-ranked Alabama into extra innings before the Tide's Whitney Larsen smacked a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to edge UK, 2-1 in extra innings.
The Wildcats went toe-to-toe with an eventual College World Series participant and had a perfect night from the plate from Johnson. Nine runners left on base proved to be UK's down fall as they struggled all night advancing runners. The then freshmen pitching tandem of Chanda Bell and Riley kept the powerful Alabama offense to a minimal allowing just five hits all game between the two first year players.
Johnson had three singles and a double and scored UK's lone run. Riley was also impressive offensively with Kentucky's RBI single in the third inning to give the Wildcats an opening lead. UK just could not come up with another game-changing hit offensively and relied heavily on another incredible defensive performance. Larsen's hit in the eighth came after UK stranded a runner in the top of the seventh.
Live stats and complete coverage of the UK softball team in Auburn can be found at UKathletics.com.
Promotions for the series with the Tide
• Gates open at 12:30 p.m. ET
• Ballpark Lunch Break - all employees who drop off a business card at the ticket window receive free admission (doesn't have to be UK...any employee anywhere!)