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March 12, 2016

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 17/15 Kentucky (21-3, 2-0 SEC) clinched the Southeastern Conference opening series win at South Carolina (19-4, 0-2 SEC) with a 5-1 triumph on Saturday afternoon at Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field.

The Wildcats scored three with two down in the first. Brooklin Hinz, on a 2-2 count, notched the first RBI with her single up the middle, while Breanne Ray followed with a two-RBI single. No. 17/15 Kentucky stretched the lead to 5-0 in the third, with an error in the outfield letting Christian Stokes score from first on Ray’s single on a 1-2 pitch. Ray came home on Jenny Schaper’s double, capping Kentucky’s scoring.

South Carolina scored once in the bottom of the third but threatened to do much more. The Gamecocks loaded the bases with no outs with two singles by sophomore third baseman Kamryn Watts and freshman second baseman Alexis Mack around a fielder’s choice that let senior left fielder Alaynie Page reach first. A grounder to third cut down the lead runner, but as Watts ran by, she clipped the throwing arm of the Wildcat catcher, knocking the ball free to let Page score. Another walk reloaded the bases, but two groundouts ended the threat with Kentucky still ahead 5-1.

Kentucky’s Meagan Prince (10-0) went the distance in the victory, giving up one unearned run on six hits and a walk. She struck out two. South Carolina junior starter Nickie Blue (7-3) took the loss, allowing five earned runs on five hits and four walks in five innings, fanning five as well.

Game Changer:
When the Gamecocks couldn’t add more than one with the bases-loaded, none-out situation in the third, it ensured momentum stayed with the Wildcats.

Key Stat:
All five of Kentucky’s runs came home with two outs.

• Kentucky drew eight walks in the contest, two each for Katie Reed and Stokes.
• Ray went 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored.
• Page went 2-for-4 for the Gamecocks, scoring the lone run while also stealing a base.
• Four other Gamecocks had hits: Mack, Watts, freshman Kennedy Clark and junior Taylor Williams, who had a pinch-hit single in the sixth.
• Paid attendance for Saturday’s game was 1,451, a season high for the Gamecocks.

Tweet of the Game:

Up Next:
South Carolina and No. 17/15 Kentucky close the series on Sunday, with first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m. EDT. The SEC Network will cover the game live.