Softball Set For Three Games at No. 2 Alabama
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky softball team returns to Southeastern Conference action this weekend, Apr. 28-29, as it travels to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 2 Alabama. The Wildcats and Crimson Tide will play a three-game set at the UA Softball Complex with a doubleheader on Saturday followed by a single game on Sunday afternoon. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday with a 2:30 p.m. start slated for Sunday's single game.
This weekend marks the 27th all-time meeting between the Cats and Crimson Tide. UA swept UK a year ago in Lexington and has won seven straight in the series. The last Kentucky win in the series came on Mar. 21, 2004, with a 7-5 Wildcat win in Lexington.
“Alabama is number two in the nation and they have strong pitching and defense,” said head coach Eileen Schmidt. “They run extremely well and hit for power. We will have to play a very clean game, get timely hitting and stay ahead of their batters from the circle standpoint.”
Alabama enters the weekend with a 14-game winning streak. The Tide swept an SEC series at Ole Miss over the weekend and topped Troy earlier this week in Tuscaloosa to improve to 47-4 on the year and 18-4 in league play. They trail LSU by a game in the Western Division and have already clinched a berth in the upcoming SEC Tournament.
Lauren Parker leads the Tide and the SEC with a .484 batting average. She is tied for fourth in the league with nine home runs and is sixth with 43 RBI this season. Alabama has seven hitters batting .324 or higher and they lead the league with 68 home runs. Kentucky is second with 55 longballs this year. Chrissy Owens is fourth in the SEC and tops on the team with a 0.97 ERA to go along with a 22-2 record on the mound for Bama. She has recorded 123 strikeouts in a team-high 144.0 innings and has tossed 16 complete games this season.
The Wildcats snapped an eight-game losing skid Wednesday night with a 5-4 win over Indiana at the UK Softball Complex. Kentucky is now 20-25 on the year and 4-18 in the SEC. This is the eighth 20-win season in school history and the fifth straight for Schmidt who had also had two 20-win campaigns at Northwestern State before coming to Lexington.
Lexington native Brooke Marnitz hit her SEC-leading 21st home run of the season in the win over Indiana. Marnitz now averages 0.47 home runs per game to lead all of Division I. The senior also leads the SEC with a .949 slugging percentage, 58 RBI and 130 total bases. Fellow senior Katie Campbell is second on the team with 36 RBI and 12 home runs. The Seattle native is third on the team with a .341 batting average which ties her with freshman Molly Johnson. Senior Ashley Fertic belted her fifth homer of the season against IU and is now ranked sixth on UK’s all-time list with 12 career bombs. Marnitz is currently first with 31 career homers, while Campbell is second with 30.
The Wildcats have already set new school records this season with 55 home runs, 227 RBI and 133 walks. UK is close to another record with 60 doubles this season -- six shy of the school record of 66 set during the 2001 campaign.