Wildcats Head to Palmetto State for Set with East-Leading Gamecocks
April 12, 2002
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The University of Kentucky softball team faces a tough challenge this weekend as it hits the road for a three-game series with Southeastern Conference Eastern Division leader South Carolina in Columbia, S.C. Game times are set for 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, April 13 and 1 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 14.
The Wildcats (19-20, 3-9 SEC) enter the series having won their last league series, 2-1, over Mississippi State in Lexington on April 6 and 7. UK followed that up by splitting with Louisville this past Wednesday. As a team, UK is hitting at a .307 clip, the second highest mark in the conference. Junior Nikki Jones leads the way at the plate for the Cats with a .432 batting average, tops in the conference.
The first-place Gamecocks (31-12, 12-6 SEC) are coming off of a 2-1 series victory over second-place Georgia on Wednesday and Thursday in Columbia. The loss in the series finale snapped a 10-game winning streak for USC. Carolina???sup>TMs Aleca Johnson (6-1, 4 saves, 1.72 ERA) is the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week as she went 3-0 with a win over Tennessee and two over Auburn. Megan Matthews is USC's go-to pitcher with a record of 16-5 in 147.2 innings pitched (1.42 ERA), while Kim Evans leads the Gamecock offense with a .325 batting average.
The Wildcats and Gamecocks have met 21 previous times with USC holding a 15-6 advantage in the series. UK has won four of the last seven regular-season games and won the 2001 regular-season series, 2-1. This year marks the first the Cats will be traveling to Columbia since 1999. UK is 1-7 all time in South Carolina's capital city with its lone win coming in the first game of the 1999 season series (4-2, April 2). The Wildcats have defeated the Gamecocks at least once every year since 1998.