LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky softball program will host Senior Weekend against the No. 12/12 South Carolina Gamecocks May 4-6 at John Cropp Stadium, sending out seniors Rachael Metzger, Brooklin Hinz and Erin Rethlake in addition to graduating junior, Hannah Huffman.
The Wildcats are currently fighting with Missouri, Mississippi State and Ole Miss for the final spots at the SEC Tournament in Columbia next week. UK, MIZ and MSU are all on six wins, with Ole Miss sitting on five wins currently. The team that finishes last will not qualify.
The series kicks off on Friday at 7 p.m. ET live on the SEC Network with Bases Loaded whiparound coverage. The UK/USC game can be seen in its entirety live on the SEC Network+ with the Voice of the Wildcats, Dave Baker (pxp) and Dorian Craft (color) calling the action.
Senior Day will be celebrated on Saturday with a 2 p.m. ET first pitch, followed by a 1 p.m. ET finale on Sunday.
Off a 14-0 win over Charleston Southern on Wednesday, the USC Gamecocks are off to their best start in program history at 42-11 overall. USC is one of the teams fighting for a bye in the SEC Tournament, and a shot at hosting an NCAA Regional and Super Regional in Columbia. The high-powered bats have led the way for South Carolina with a team batting average of .277 paced by Mackenzie Boesel’s .360 average. In the circle, USC has been led by Kelsey Oh who has a 13-3 record with a 1.48 ERA on the year, but it’s been a balanced attack with Cayla Drotar throwing an 18-4 season out there with a 2.01 ERA.
South Carolina leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 38-26 with the team’s last meeting coming at the 2017 SEC Tournament in Knoxville, where UK won 7-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. Kentucky has won five of the last six meetings with the Gamecocks and four in a row. The last time USC visited Lexington, it took two of three from the Wildcats, capped by a 7-6 11-inning win on Sunday to claim the series win back in 2015. The last time that USC and Kentucky met on the last weekend of the regular season was 2009 – when UK took two of three in the series, winning games one and two in Columbia.
UK is in a fight to host an NCAA Regional at the moment, with an RPI of 14 and the No. 2 national strength of schedule. The top-16 teams as determined by the NCAA Selection Committee will host the Regional round at their campus sites.
The SEC is always a challenge. But, in this year’s schedule rotation – Kentucky mathematically has the toughest schedule possible. The Wildcats will face each of the top eight teams for their eight conference series. This year, the Wildcats miss out on Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Arkansas and Missouri while adding LSU, Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina back onto their schedule. All eight of UK’s SEC series are currently against a team ranked inside the top-16 of both major polls, and inside the top-17 of the NCAA RPI released on Monday.