UK Softball Releases 2011 Schedule
Dec. 14, 2010
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After two consecutive NCAA tournament runs, the University of Kentucky softball team, under the leadership of fourth-year head coach Rachel Lawson has released its 2011 schedule which is highlighted by four tournaments, 16 home games and contests against 15 NCAA tournament teams from 2010.
The Wildcats will face three teams that advanced to the Women's College World Series just a year ago, as the Cats will host Southeastern Conference foes Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia in 2011 all at the UK Softball complex.
"We have a tremendous schedule due to the fact that we will face some of the best teams in the country both in and out of conference," Lawson said. "The make-up of our squad has a great mix of experienced returners and powerful freshmen. Assuming we continue to adapt to the demands required of an elite SEC program, our schedule will not only prepare us for the power within the SEC, but will also put us in a position to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament."
Kentucky will open the season with four tournaments in Miami, Fla., Tallahassee, Fla., Stanford, Calif., and Carbondale, Ill. Of the five teams that the Cats will face in the FIU Combat Classic Feb. 11-13, three are NCAA Tournament teams from 2010, as UK is slated to play Ohio State, Florida International and DePaul to begin its season.
Georgia Southern, Middle Tennessee State and Florida State highlight the field for the second of four tournaments as the Cats will square off in the Florida State Tournament Feb. 18-20. First pitch will be at 10 a.m. ET on Feb. 18 as Kentucky will square off against Georgia Southern to open the tournament.
In the Stanford Tournament Kentucky will face a test out of conference as they play three NCAA teams from a year ago. The Cats will take on Stanford, UC Davis, as well as North Dakota State.
In the Cats' final pre-SEC tune-up, Kentucky will take on Southern Illinois, Wright State and Purdue over the two-day stretch March 5-6, as UK will be one of four teams to take part in the Southern Illinois Tournament.
Kentucky gets its SEC slate of games underway at home against one of the favorites in the SEC and backyard rival, the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. The Lady Vols will pay a visit to Lexington March 11-13. The opener of the three-game set will begin at 5 p.m. ET, March 11 at the UK Softball Complex.
The SEC has made some noticeable changes to the schedule format used in 2010, as all of the SEC weekend series will be taking place over a three-day stretch instead of its previous format of a doubleheader on Saturday and then a series capped by a single game on Sunday. The SEC softball slate will rival the format used in SEC baseball for the past several years. All weekend series will be have a single game played Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
"The new three-day format will add even more excitement to the already popular SEC," Lawson said. "Our fans will have more of an opportunity to enjoy the sport of softball at the highest level of competition. From a strategic standpoint, I feel great about or ability to do well in our new format because the three day series should favor the teams with dominant pitching."
After hosting Tennessee, the Cats will pay a visit to Fayetteville, Ark., as the Wildcats will face the Arkansas Razorbacks in a mid-week doubleheader. The first of the two games will begin at 5 p.m. ET on March 16. This will be the first road trip in conference play for the Blue and White.
The Cats return six starters to the 2011 lineup, which should pay off as UK travels to Baton Rouge, La., to take on the LSU Tigers March 18-20. LSU, an NCAA tournament team from a year ago, is one of six teams from the SEC that the Wildcats will face in 2011 that made the national field in 2010.
As the season heads down the home stretch, Kentucky will turn to All-SEC performer Megan Yocke, who will be looking to improve on her .311 career batting average and 14 home runs. Yocke has played in all 167 games for the Wildcats since her freshman season in 2008 posting 142 hits while knocking in 86 runs.
Fellow senior Meagan Aull will also be a player coach Lawson will look to, as Aull is another four-year starter who has played in every game since her freshman season. Aull, a native of Owensboro, Ky., will look to add to her 76 runs scored in 2010.
UK continues with its traditional home-and-home series with Louisville, as the Cats will make the 90 minute drive west on March 23, in a game that will start at 5 p.m. Louisville will return the trip, as the Cardinals travel to Lexington on April 30 with first pitch scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the UK Softball Complex.
The first three days of April, the Cats will take on the Florida Gators. The Gators, who made it to the Women's College World Series in each of the last three seasons, will provide a stiff challenge for a UK team that will have eight newcomers on its 2011 roster. After the Florida series, the Blue and White will hit the road for seven straight games, the first of which will be a doubleheader at Austin Peay with the first game beginning at 6 p.m.
The Cats will then travel south to Athens, Ga., to take on the Georgia Bulldogs. The Bulldogs made it further than any SEC team in the NCAA Tournament a year ago, falling to the eventual National Champions, UCLA. That series will take place April 8-10 at the Georgia Softball Complex.
The Wildcats will play a doubleheader at 3 p.m. at Marshall on April 13. That game embarks the final stretch of non-conference games for the Cats, as UK will return home to face Tennessee Tech April 16 and then in-state foe Eastern Kentucky on the 19th.
After three games at South Carolina, Kentucky will return home for a doubleheader with Ole Miss on April 27.
As the calendar switches to May, the Blue and White will visit Tuscaloosa, Ala. for three dates with Alabama beginning April 29. Friday night's game will begin at 7:30 p.m., while the Saturday and Sunday games will begin at 2:30 p.m.
UK will return home to close out the regular season when the Auburn Tigers come to Lexington for a three-game set May 6-8. The final game of the three game series will be on May 8 and serve as Senior Day. First pitch for Sunday afternoons contest will be at 1:00 p. m.
The SEC Conference Tournament will be in Oxford, Miss., as the Ole Miss Rebels will serve as the host school in 2011. The tournament will begin May 12, with the champion crowned on May 14. Complete coverage of the Wildcat softball team can be found at UKathletics.com.