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March 11, 2016

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 17/15 Kentucky (20-3, 1-0 SEC) jumped out early and held off South Carolina (19-3, 0-1 SEC) to claim an 8-2 victory on Friday night at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field in the SEC opener for both teams.

The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first, helped by two Gamecock errors. The first flub allowed the leadoff Wildcat runner to score, and after it was 3-0, the second error on a throw to first let two more Kentucky runs score. Brooklin Hinz had an RBI double, and Kelsey Nunley capped the frame with a run-scoring single.

Two more Wildcats scored in the third, both runs driven in by pinch hitters. Rachael Metzger plated the first with a groundout, and Erin Rethlake singled to bring in the other.

South Carolina got on the board in the bottom of the third thanks to a two-out double by junior first baseman Kaylea Snaer. That scored freshmen Alexis Mack and Kennedy Clark, who reached on a walk and an error, respectively.

Nunley (8-1) picked up the win with 4.1 innings of relief work, striking out three while giving up one hit and one walk. Gamecock junior Jessica Elliott (11-1) took the loss, allowing eight runs, six earned, on 11 hits and three walks in seven innings.

Game Changer:
The six-run first propelled the Wildcats to the win.

Key Stat:
The Gamecocks committed three errors for the second time this season.

• Wildcats Katie Reed and Hinz both went 3-for-4, with Hinz knocking two doubles, scoring twice and posting one RBI to Reed’s one run and one stolen base.
• Christian Stokes went 2-for-3 with a run scored.
• Three different Gamecocks had hits, led by Snaer’s two-RBI double. Mack and senior catcher Jordan Bizzell had the other.
• Freshman shortstop Kenzi Maguire was hit twice in the game.

Up Next:
The Gamecocks and Wildcats tangle in game two on Saturday at 1 p.m., with the SEC Network in town to broadcast the game.