Wildcats Host Auburn in Regular Season Finale
May 5, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 16 Kentucky softball team has remained out of competition for 12 consecutive days and will return to the field in a regular season finale at the UK Softball Complex playing host to No. 23 Auburn beginning Friday, May 6. First pitch on Friday night is slated for 7 p.m. ET in an ever-important Southeastern Conference showdown.
Saturday the Blue and White will don pink uniforms as it hosts a "Pink" game to raise awareness for cancer with proceeds going to the UK Markey Cancer Center. Sunday UK will honor its four-member senior class of Meagan Aull, Samantha DeMartine, Annie Rowlands and Megan Yocke.
Kentucky (35-11, 13-7 SEC) is vying to achieve more history during its already remarkable 2011 campaign. Auburn (36-15, 13-12 SEC) and the Wildcats will play for seeding in next week's SEC Tournament set to take place in Oxford, Miss. The winner of the series is guaranteed at least the No.6 seed, while the other squad will fall to the No. 7 overall seed in the tournament.
The Blue and White are one win shy of matching the program record for wins in a season. The 2000 squad holds the distinction with a 36 win year. UK is also two wins shy of matching the 2000 team's record of 15 conference victories.
The senior class of Aull, DeMartine, Rowlands and Yocke has been the anchors of an incredible turnaround for the UK softball team during their tremendous four-year careers. The quartet has started from day one for UK and has helped the Blue and White put together three straight 30-win seasons for the first time in school history. The senior class has also pushed UK into a school-best third straight SEC Tournament.
This class also already topped the most wins in school history for a single class with 118. They also own the highest winning percentage in school allure. Furthermore, this class was the first group to achieve a national ranking and have been ranked in 12 straight weeks including topping out at the highest ranking in school history at No. 15. They were members of UK's first post-season victory in an SEC Tournament upset of No. 7 Georgia in 2009, and they have downed 16 top-25 ranked opponents in their careers. In 2011 the quartet has guided the Blue and White to five SEC series wins, the most ever in a single season at UK.
Auburn, like the Wildcats, are one of seven SEC teams to post 35 or more victories on the season with a 36-15 clip overall and a 13-12 mark in SEC action.
The Tigers are coming off an impressive series win at home against then-ranked No. 4 Georgia. After the Bulldogs claimed the series opener, the Tigers fired back to capture the series with consecutive wins on Saturday and Sunday.
Auburn is led at the dish by Morgan Estell who is pacing the squad with a .400 batting average. Estell also has a team-leading 30 RBI, 16 doubles and six homers on the year. As a unit, the Tigers are batting with a .289 clip and have totaled 34 long balls on the year as well as 58 stolen bases.
In the circle, Angel Bunner owns a squad-best 1.64 ERA with 13 wins and 107 strikeouts. Lauren Schmalz was recently named the SEC Pitcher of the Week and she claims a 2.80 ERA with 14 wins and 141 strikeouts. Auburn's staff is limiting opposing batters to a .221 batting average.
Auburn leads the overall series with the Wildcats with a 26-13 record. The Tigers claimed the series in the SEC opening weekend in 2010 by winning two of three games, but UK swept Auburn at home in 2009.
Complete coverage of the UK softball team can be found at UKathletics.com all season long.