Wildcats Take on Lady Vols in SEC Quarterfinals
May 11, 2011
OXFORD, Miss. - After matching a program record with 36 victories on the season, the No. 20/22 Kentucky softball team is traveling to Oxford, Miss., for an appearance in a school-best third consecutive Southeastern Conference Tournament. UK, the No. 6 seed, will play the No. 3 seed in Tennessee. The Blue and White captured the series from the Lady Vols in the opening weekend of SEC action, but the squads have never met in postseason action.
UK and Tennessee will mark the opening game of the SEC Tournament. This is the third straight season the Wildcats will kick off the conference tournament. First pitch is set for Noon ET and will air live on ESPNU with Cara Capuano and Jessica Mendoza on the call.
Kentucky's offensive firepower has been the story of the season as UK has notched five different single-season offensive records on the year including home runs (62), runs scored (289) and RBI (251) with just 49 games played on the year. Three different Wildcat players have notched 10 or more homers, with four players having scored 35 or more runs and nine players with 10 or more RBI on the year.
Senior Meagan Aull has emerged as UK's most consistent threat with a career-high .375 batting average and nine home runs. Senior Megan Yocke has continued to steadily improve throughout her career and owns career-bests in batting average, homers, walks and on-base percentage. Sophomore Kara Dill leads the attack with a .379 clip and 19 stolen bases, while junior Brittany Cervantes has erupted as UK's most dangerous player. Cervantes tops the team in home runs, runs scored, RBI and extra base hits.
The Lady Vols enter the SEC quarterfinals matchup with Kentucky owning a 44-10 overall record. Tennessee had a chance to clinch the SEC title in the final series of the season at Florida, however, the Gators were on a mission and swept all three games from the Lady Vols.
Tennessee has remained in the top-15 of the polls in every week during the season and are led by a balanced offensive attack and a terrific pitching tandem in the Renfroe sisters.
Raven Chavanne leads the offensive effort with a .455 batting average and 29 stolen bases. Lauren Gibson and Kat Dotson are also batting with a .400 or better clip as UT charts a .352 batting average as a unit. Jessica Spigner leads three players with 10 or more home runs with a team-best 14 long balls.
In the circle, the duo of Ellen and Ivy Renfroe own 1.33 and 1.99 ERAs, respectively. Ellen has totaled a 23-5 record as a freshman, while Ivy carries a 17-4 mark into postseason action. Ellen has struck out 233 batters with Ivy chipping in 134 on the season. The Renfroes are limiting opposing batters to a mere .188 (Ellen) and .233 (Ivy) clips.
Kentucky and Tennessee met in the opening weekend of SEC action March 11-13. UK captured the series-opening win in a shootout by a 9-6 margin. UK plated five runs in the bottom of the sixth to complete the late charge.
Tennessee evened up the series with a 10-0 victory on Saturday, before senior Megan Yocke propelled the Wildcats to a series win in the third game.
The Lady Vols owned a 4-1 edge going into the bottom of the seventh frame. With two outs and two runners on base, Yocke blasted a pitch over the left-center fence to force extra innings. Sophomore Kara Dill's single through the left side pushed UK to the win for the weekend-opening series victory. In that series, Yocke batted with a .556 clip and Meagan Aull charted a .455 average with five hits in the series. UK combined to hit .326 in the three games with six extra-base hits and 13 RBI.
Juniors Rachel Riley and Chanda Bell both earned victories in the circle in the series. Riley yielded six hits in eight innings of action to the high-octane offensive squad. Bell gave up just five hits in nine innings of action while striking out 12.
Tennessee leads the all-time series by a 31-11 mark. Although, UK has combined to go 4-6 in the Rachel Lawson era against the Lady Vols. This will mark the first time in the history of the SEC Tournament that Kentucky and Tennessee will play.
Follow along with UK all post-season long at UKathetics.com.