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UK Sports Notebook: Cats head south to to face No. 3 Gators; baseball squad meets Hogs

Kentucky run against nationally ranked softball opponents continues this weekend against No. 3 Florida (UK Athletics Photo)

Kentucky run against nationally ranked softball opponents continues this weekend against No. 3 Florida (UK Athletics Photo)


With three wins the last two weekends against top-five ranked teams, the No. 13 University of Kentucky softball team’s schedule doesn’t get any easier this weekend, as the Wildcats travel to face the defending national champions and No. 3 ranked Florida for a three-game Southeastern Conference series at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

Florida (37-4, 8-4 SEC) is the third consecutive top-five conference foe for the Wildcats, who started this tough run by taking two of three games over No. 1 LSU before a win last weekend over No. 5 Alabama. Kentucky is the only team in the conference so far this season to face three straight top-five ranked conference foes.

UK, which started league play at then-No. 20 Texas A&M and at then-No. 9 Auburn, will conclude SEC play against South Carolina, who is receiving votes, No. 12/12 Georgia and No. 11/14 Tennessee.

The three-game series vs. Florida starts Saturday at 4 p.m., before a 3 p.m. showdown on Sunday and 7 p.m. series finale Monday. Saturday and Sunday’s games will be broadcast through WatchESPN on the SEC Network+, while Monday’s finale will be televised nationally on the SEC Network with Adam Amin and former Texas A&M All-American Amanda Scarborough calling the action.

Kentucky (27-11, 4-8 SEC) was scheduled to face Marshall on Wednesday in a midweek non-conference battle before inclement weather caused a three-hour delay that eventually canceled the game.

The Wildcats swept a doubleheader against Florida Atlantic on Monday, taking game one, 3-1, before a 7-1 victory in the second game. The wins over FAU, who has been receiving votes in the national rankings a majority of the season and rank 38th nationally in the NCAA RPI, moved Kentucky’s home record to 10-3 this season, including 7-0 in non-conference home games.

Kentucky held on to its No. 13 national ranking in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25, while it dropped one spot to No. 15 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. The rankings mark the 41st consecutive national ranking that included the Wildcats, which is a program record.

The Wildcats have played 16 games against ranked foes already with a 6-10 record, besting then-No. 5 Florida State, then-No. 10 Arizona, then-No. 20 Texas A&M and most recently two games vs. No. 1 LSU and one game vs. then-No. 5 Alabama.

UK has 13 games remaining this season against teams either ranked or receiving votes in either poll, including three-game sets with No. 3/3 Florida, No. 12/12 Georgia, No. 11/14 Tennessee and South Carolina, who is receiving votes. UK is also scheduled to play a home games vs. WKU, who is receiving votes in both listings.

Kentucky has 15 regular-season games left in 2015 with 13 of those games coming against teams that rank top 50 in the most recent NCAA RPI that was released Monday. UK has nine games left vs. RPI Top 25 teams and six games vs. RPI Top 15 teams.

Florida, the defending national champions that enter the weekend ranked No. 3 in both national rankings and No. 1 in the NCAA RPI, rank high nationally in several areas, including eighth in scoring, fourth in earned run average and 21st in fielding percentage.

The Gators are 37-4 overall this season with a 16-2 mark at home. UF is 8-4 in conference play with two losses to No. 1 LSU and one loss each to highly ranked Alabama and Mississippi State, who has been receiving votes in the national rankings all season.

Kentucky opens series with Arkansas Friday

The Kentucky baseball team will open a three-game series on Friday at Arkansas, with first pitch at Baum Stadium slated for 7:35 p.m. The series will resume on Saturday at 7:05 p.m. and conclude on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. at Baum Stadium.

The three games will be broadcast live on SEC Network+, available on WatchESPN. The series will also be live on the UK Radio Network, with the Voice of UK Baseball, Neil Price, calling the action. Fans in Central Kentucky can hear the games live on WLAP 630-AM, in Louisville on WKJK 1080-AM and online at UKathletics.com.

The Wildcats will send the weekend rotation of sophomore righty Zack Brown (2-3, 3.06 ERA) on Friday, junior right-hander Dustin Beggs (3-2, 3.33 ERA) on Saturday and junior right-hander Kyle Cody (2-3, 5.87 ERA) on Sunday. Arkansas will turn to junior standout right-hander Trey Killian (0-2, 4.23 ERA) on Friday and sophomore righty Dominic Taccolini (5-2, 3.11 ERA) on Saturday, with Sunday’s starter to be announced.

Kentucky (18-13, 4-7 Southeastern Conference) has hit for a .303 average as a team in 2015, good for fourth in the SEC. UK has slugged .404 and reached base at a .388 clip, scoring 184 runs in 31 games, stealing 40 bases. On the mound, UK has a 4.59 ERA, with six saves in 278.2 innings, walking 98 and striking out 223.

Last weekend, UK had weather impact another stretch in 2015, as the Wildcats and the top-ranked Texas A&M Aggies were set to square off in a Thursday-Friday-Saturday series, before a historic rain storm halted plans. The two teams were forced to settle with a pair of seven-inning games on Saturday, with TAMU erasing an early one-run lead in the first game with five runs over the fourth and fifth innings.

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In the nightcap, TAMU jumped out to a 3-1 lead, before UK rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. A two-strike hit batter to leadoff the sixth, an RBI double and a two-run homer lead to the 6-3 setback in the seven-inning game. In the midweek game, UK plated five runs in the second inning and had a 7-5 lead heading to the seventh inning, before Indiana had two-run innings in each of the final three frames to post an 11-7 win.

On Wednesday, UK was scheduled to face No. 5 Louisville at Jim Patterson Stadium in the River City, but a ferocious rain storm halted those plans with a postponement.

Arkansas (18-15, 5-7 SEC) is coming off a pair of midweek wins over Mississippi Valley State, posting an 8-1 win and a 14-0 result on Wednesday. The Razorbacks are coming off a series win at Auburn last weekend, posting a 10-7 win in the opener, before Keegan Thompson fired a complete-game win to even the series. The Razorbacks claimed the finale with four runs over the eighth and ninth innings to pick up the series, getting the ninth homer of the year from Andrew Benintendi.

Arkansas has a 35-23 record all-time against Kentucky, claiming a series win in Lexington in 2013, with UK using a three-run bottom of the ninth inning to pick up a win in the finale, 4-3. Arkansas owns an 18-9 all-time record over Kentucky, with UK winning the last series in 2012 by posting the first-ever doubleheader sweep at Arkansas in the history of Baum Stadium. The 2010 meeting was decided on centerfielder Colin Kuhn’s walk-off grand slam in a 16-15 win in the rubber match.

From UK Athletics

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