Kentucky Begins SEC Slate at Auburn
March 11, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - In what has become a common theme among the UK softball team, the Wildcats will begin the Southeastern Conference schedule much like it did the 2010 season - on the road. Kentucky will travel to Auburn for a three-game series to start the SEC slate. UK and the Tigers will meet for a pair of games on Saturday, and wrap up the set with a single outing on Sunday.
Kentucky, which is off to the best start in school history, appeared in front of a home crowd on Wednesday when they welcomed in-state rival and 18th-ranked Louisville to the UK Softball Complex. The game was a pitchers' duel that forced extra innings in front of nearly 500 fans. In the end, the Cardinals plated three runs in the top of the eighth to break the scoreless tie and take the first game of the home-and-home series for 2010.
The Wildcats are set for the SEC season after appearing in their first SEC Tournament a season ago in over nine seasons. The Blue and White made the biggest improvement of any team in league action a year ago finishing sixth overall. UK then topped Georgia in the SEC Tournament on its way to its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance. Auburn is the first of five road series, while Kentucky will also host five series in Lexington. Two of those series will be mid-week doubleheaders with Alabama visiting Kentucky and the Wildcats will then travel to Tennessee to complete those matchups.
Auburn enters SEC season with a 13-6 overall record. The Tigers have won their last five outings. Kentucky and Auburn have played one similar opponent in top-15 ranked Arizona State. Kentucky earned a victory over the Sun Devils, while Auburn fell 14-2 in five innings.
The Tigers are led by Kelsey Cartwright and Kelley Smiley who are both hitting .368 on the season. Amber Harrison leads the squad with 22 RBI and eight extra base hits. In the circle, senior Anna Thompson paces the team with a 5-4 record and an impressive 0.56 ERA. Thompson, the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week, has also struck out 128 batters on the season.
Auburn leads the overall series with a 24-12 record, but Kentucky claimed all three meetings a season ago.
In 2009, the Blue and White swept the series with the Tigers in Lexington. The Wildcats batted .344 as a team compared to Auburn's .125 average in the series a year ago. The Blue and White generated eight extra-base hits, including four home runs, while defensively the squad did not commit an error in the three-game set. Then sophomore Megan Yocke was a machine at the plate going 4-for-7 with a slugging percentage of an astounding 1.571 for the series. She tallied game one's walk-off home run, two triples while also showing her unselfishness at the plate with a pair of sacrifice hits.
Four Kentucky batters hit over .500 for the three game series led by Yocke's .571 average. Meagan Aull went 4-for-8 which included a three-run home run in game two. Brittany Cervantes was .500 for the weekend, along with Annie Rowlands who had a 2-for-4 series and an on-base percentage of .667.
Live stats and complete coverage of the UK softball team in Auburn can be found at UKathletics.com.