Gamecocks Face No. 4/4 Tennessee in SEC Quarters at 7:30 PM on ESPN|
May 9, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. - After knocking off seventh-seeded and host Kentucky in the first round, South Carolina (32-22) takes on another tough challenge on Thursday, squaring off against second-seeded Tennessee (43-9) at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
The Gamecocks won their first-round contest 6-3 behind a strong pitching performance from redshirt sophomore Julie Sarratt, who had five 1-2-3 innings and didn't walk a Wildcat in the victory. The offense did its job as well, getting RBI singles from senior Samie Garcia, freshman Alaynie Page and sophomore Kristen Struett in the four-run third before junior Chelsea Hawkins sent a two-run homer over the wall in left for insurance in the sixth. Garcia, the Gamecocks' second-team selection on the coaches' All-SEC ballots, also claimed second-team accolades from CollegeSportsMadness.com.
The Lady Vols enter the tournament ranked fourth in both major polls but coming off of a series loss at Missouri last weekend. Strong all round, Tennessee is led by a trio of first-team All-SEC infielders, including SEC Player of the Year Lauren Gibson. The senior second baseman has 18 homers and 65 RBI on the year and leads the Lady Vols in both on-base and slugging percentage. Fellow senior and third baseman Raven Chavanne has a .473/.548/.635 line and has stolen 37 bases without being caught as a senior. Junior shortstop Madison Shipman has 17 doubles and 53 RBI, rounding out the trio who also claimed the SEC All-Defensive Team spots.
Another dual award winner for UT was senior right fielder Kat Dotson, who is 17-for-18 in the stolen-base department while hitting .350. She made both the All-SEC first team and the all-defensive squad. The Lady Vols rely on sisters Ivy and Ellen Renfroe in the circle. The junior Ellen gets more work, fanning 155 batters in 145 innings while walking 54. She has a 2.03 ERA, a shade above senior Ivy's 1.85 mark in 117.1 innings.
The two teams have met 46 times previously, with Tennessee taking 31 of those, including 24 straight. This will be the first neutral-site meeting in series history and the first SEC Tournament matchup between the two programs.
ESPN is televising the game, with Beth Mowins and Jessica Mendoza on the call. Holly Rowe will be the third member of the team, reporting from the field. Watch their feed via Watch ESPN/ESPN3 here. Live audio will also be available for free here at GamecocksOnline.com, while live stats will come from SECDigitalNetwork.com.