Kentucky Travels to Top-Five Ranked Florida
April 15, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Kentucky is set to travel to Gainesville, Fla., for a three-game series with top-five ranked Florida this weekend. The Blue and White meet the Gators for a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The first game of the series will be broadcast live by Sun Sports. The teams will reconvene for a final outing on Sunday at Noon airing live on ESPNU. It marks the second game of the season UK will appear on an ESPN family of networks.
UK (26-16, 10-9 Southeastern Conference) turned in its most impressive SEC series of the year with a sweep of South Carolina in Lexington last week. Kentucky's bats came alive in the series as every batter in the order registered at least one hit in the series with the Gamecocks. Seniors Molly Johnson and Natalie Smith combined to go 15-for-24 with 11 runs scored, four doubles and six RBI in the series. Junior Megan Yocke blasted her second career grand slam, and UK got solo home runs from Destinee Mordecai and Meagan Aull.
On Wednesday, UK stepped out of league play and earned a midweek win over Western Kentucky by a 9-3 margin. Mordecai charted a three-run home run to lead the offense. Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell earned her third consecutive victory in the circle and struck out nine on the night.
Florida (32-4, 12-2 SEC) is ranked in the top-four in the country in both major polls and is atop the SEC standings with a 12-2 mark after claiming the crown in each of the last two seasons.
Florida, a national semi-finalist team from a season ago, lost one of the best pitchers in NCAA history in Stacey Nelson. The Gators, though, have not missed a beat and are ranked No. 3 in the country by the NFCA and No. 4 by USA Softball. Junior pitcher Stephanie Brombacher paces the pitching rotation with a 21-4 overall record and a 2.30 ERA. Brombacher has thrown 154 strikeouts on the season.
National Player of the Year candidate Francesca Enea is batting .382 with a league-best 15 home runs. Megan Bush, Kelsey Bruder and Aja Paculba anchor the returning experience for the Gators and the trio has combined for 24 home runs and over 90 RBI.
Florida leads the overall series with a 37-6 overall record including a 2-0 mark from 2009. Kentucky nearly had the top-ranked team from a season ago beat in Lexington behind a near flawless pitching performance from Rachel Riley.
Riley turned in one of the most impressive pitching performances in Kentucky softball history when she threw a one-hitter in a 1-0 nine-inning loss to the No. 1 Florida Gators in the first game of the series last year.
Riley had a no-hitter going until she gave up a single in the top of the ninth inning. Florida's Ali Gardner found a gap through the left side with one-out and a runner on base. The Gators' Kelsey Bruder would earn a sacrifice fly for the game's lone run lifting Florida to the 1-0 win.
UK's right-hander becomes the first hurler since former Tennessee All-American Monica Abbott to yield just one hit against Florida. Abbott was the last to achieve the feat on March 10, 2007. The Lady Vols won that contest 4-0 in 10 innings.
The Wildcats had their chances for an upset in the wire-to-wire game with the visitors. Kentucky left runners stranded in six of the eight innings - including the seventh and eighth stanzas. The Wildcats' five hits against the Gators was the second-highest total given up by senior Stacey Nelson at that point in the season.
Complete coverage of the Wildcat softball team can be found at UKathletics.com.