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Kentucky wins final two games at Tennessee to take 3-game series; softball team swept by Auburn

The Kentucky baseball team completed a grueling five-game week with its third consecutive series win to open Southeastern Conference play, defeating Tennessee, in addition to a midweek win over Xavier and a setback against Northern Kentucky.

Kentucky will return to action in a four-game home week, starting on Wednesday, hosting No. 4 Louisville on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and No. 21 Alabama in a three-game series, starting on Friday at 6:30 p.m., resuming Saturday at 2 p.m. and concluding Sunday at 1 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

Kyle Cody pitched UK to a win over Tennessee Sunday in Knoxville (UK Athletics Photo)

Kyle Cody pitched UK to a win over Tennessee Sunday in Knoxville (UK Athletics Photo)

Kentucky (20-8, 6-3 SEC) won its third consecutive series to open league play with the final two games at Tennessee. It marks the first time UK has won its first three SEC weekend series’ since 2013. It has been a display of UK’s resilience, bouncing back from series-opening losses to claim the final two games of the set.

UK opened the week with a 5-4 loss to Northern Kentucky, before rebounding with a 6-2 win over Xavier on Wednesday to conclude midweek action. UK then ventured to Tennessee, suffering a 14-5 loss to the Vols.

The Wildcats bounced back behind senior Dustin Beggs on Saturday, who won his school-record seventh straight game to open the season, with Sean Hjelle earning his fourth save in pitching the ninth. Kyle Cody then pitched UK to a 10-2 win on Sunday in the rubber match at UT, with UK getting three hits from Zach Reks in a 13-hit attack.

UK has hit .298, .385 and.460 as a team, with 192 runs scored through 28 games, stealing 29 bases, belting 55 doubles, seven triples and 29 homers. Defensively, UK has fielded .969, turning 19 double plays and nabbing seven of 19 runners stealing. On the mound, UK has a 4.10 team ERA in 250 innings, allowing 231 hits and 96 walks, striking out 225 with foes hitting .241.

At the plate, junior outfielder Zach Reks leads the team with a .393 average., adding three doubles, one homer and eight RBI. Junior DH Gunnar McNeill has a school-record 23 game hitting streak and has batted .384 with six doubles, five homers and 33 RBI on the year. Sophomore 1B Evan White has hit .369 with eight doubles, two triples, two homers and 27 RBI, stealing 9-of-10 bases.

Sophomore SS Riley Mahan hits .323 with six doubles, two triples, three homers and 18 RBI, swiping five bases. Sophomore 2B Luke Becker has hit .298 with six doubles, one homer and 11 RBI, stealing three bases. Junior 3B JaVon Shelby leads the team with six homers, adding a .270 average with seven doubles, two triples and 17 RBI. Freshman OF Tristan Pompey has hit .256 with five doubles, one triple, four homers and 22 RBI. Freshman C Kole Cottam has hit .240 with three doubles, one homer and 11 RBI. Junior CF Storm Wilson has been an on-base force at the top of the lineup with a .373 on-base percentage, adding eight doubles, one homer and four steals. Junior OF Marcus Carson has two homers and seven RBI.

UK has used the weekend rotation of junior righty Zack Brown (1-5, 7.12 ERA), senior right-hander Dustin Beggs (7-0, 2.74 ERA) and senior righty Kyle Cody (3-1, 5.66 ERA). In relief for the Wildcats, senior righty Zach Strecker (2-0, 0.47 ERA) has appeared in a team-high 11 games, with Sean Hjelle (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and Justin Lewis (2-0, 0.45 ERA) each owning four saves in nine outings. Lefties Logan Salow (1-0, 1.98 ERA), Zach Logue (1-0, 4.02 ERA), Dylan Dwyer (2-0, 4.61 ERA), Daniel Tillo (0-0, 6.00 ERA), Brad Schaenzer (0-1, 7.50 ERA) and Josh Smith (0-0, 7.71 ERA) have each appeared in at least four games in relief.

Meagan Prince delivers a pitch in Sunday's loss to Auburn (UK Athletics Photo)

Meagan Prince delivers a pitch in Sunday’s loss to Auburn (UK Athletics Photo)

Softball: Auburn earns sweep of No. 12 Wildcats

A one-out RBI double in the top of the ninth inning was enough to lift the No. 3 Auburn Tigers to a 3-1 extra-inning win over the No. 12 Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday afternoon at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington in front of more than 1,200 people.

With the win on Sunday, the Tigers move to 33-4 overall on the season, and jump into a tie with Florida for the top spot in the Southeastern Conference with a 9-3 league record through four weekends of action. Kentucky falls to 31-8 overall in 2016 and 8-4 in SEC play, just one game outside of Florida for the top spot in the SEC.

For the second day in a row, the Kentucky pitching staff had a tough-luck loser – as Meagan Prince – who pitched nine innings on just six Auburn hits and three runs suffered her second straight loss on the season after pitching a great game. Prince struck out five Auburn batters in the game, and threw just over 125 pitches in the nine inning affair.

Kentucky will host the first of an annual two-game series with in-state rival Louisville on Wednesday night at 5:30 p.m. at John Cropp Stadium. The game will be shown live on the SEC Network-plus, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app with Dick Gabriel and Dorian Craft on the call. Kentucky will continue SEC play on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La., against the LSU Tigers.

From UK Athletics

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