KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – After a brief respite, No. 6 Tennessee (23-3, 1-2 SEC) steps back into Southeastern Conference play this weekend by hosting a three-game series against SEC Eastern Division foe Kentucky (11-8, 0-0 SEC) at the Lee Softball Stadium. First pitch of Saturday’s opening doubleheader is currently scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.
With an 80% chance of rain and storms in Saturday’s forecast, please check into utladyvols.com or the Lady Vol Hotline (865-974-8700, box #6) for any weather-related time changes or postponements.
The Big Orange swept a frigid three-contest set from Kentucky in Lexington, Ky., last season by 12-0, 8-2 and 9-4 scores. UT is currently riding a seven-game win streak in the overall series, have won 13 of the last 14 match-ups and control the series with a 25-7 all-time record versus UK. In Knoxville, Tennessee is 11-3 against the Wildcats with the last Kentucky victory occurring by a 2-1 count in eight innings back on March 29, 2005.
In UT’s last action, the Lady Vols swept a Wednesday home doubleheader from in-state foe Tennessee State, 9-1 (5 inn.) and 4-1. Senior Shannon Doepking continued her torrid production at the plate by hitting .600 with a double and two more runs batted in to raise her team-leading RBI total to 25. The Acton, Calif., native’s season average is now up to a career-best .414, while 12 of her 25 RBI have been clutch coming with two outs in an inning. Senior Tonya Callahan hit .400 and knocked in three scores to raise her average to a team-best .429 and her career RBI total to 203. The 5-8 third baseman from Holden, Mo., is now tied with former Lady Vol Kristi Durant for the all-time RBI record at Tennessee. Freshman Jen Lapicki blasted her fourth home run of the campaign, doubled twice and knocked in three runs, while senior Kenora Posey (three) and junior Lillian Hammond (two) combined for five stolen bases in the doubleheader. From the circle Megan Rhodes (8.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 9 K) and Ashton Ward (4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K) each picked up another win to improve their season records to 10-1 and 13-2, respectively.
After getting off to a slow start, the Kentucky Wildcats have picked it up lately by winning nine of their last 10 contests to enter this weekend’s series with an 11-8 overall record. UK is 1-1 on the road this year and 0-2 in its only action versus ranked teams, dropping 9-5 and 6-0 decisions to then-No. 16 Hawai’i. Offensively, the Blue & White rate fifth in the league in batting average at .293 and are scoring at a solid 5.1 run-per-game clip. It’s in the circle that the ‘Cats have struggled posting a team ERA of 3.12 to rate last in the league. Sophomore utility player Molly Johnson guides the UK offense with a .431 average, six doubles, two triples, two homers and a team-best 14 RBI. Sophomore Natalie Smith and freshman Megan Yocke are hitting at .391 and .345, respectively, to round out Wildcats currently over the .300 mark. Sophomore hurler Amber Matousek has seen the most work in the circle firing 71.1 of UK’s 130 total innings. The Glendale, Ariz., native currently possesses a 5-5 record with a 3.34 ERA, nine complete games and 58 K’s. Of the 52 runs Matousek has allowed to this point, only 34 are of the earned variety. Sophomore Jennifer Young (3-1, 1.59 ERA, 26.1 IP), senior Megan Jolly (2-2, 2.86 ERA, 22 IP) and senior Lindsay Brogdon (1-0, 5.91 ERA, 10.2 IP) have provided support.