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Wildcats outscore Gamecocks, advance to quarterfinals

1456 days ago
SEC Staff
Photo: Kentucky Athletics

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- No. 7 seed Kentucky's offense was too much for No. 10 seed South Carolina in Game 3 of the 2017 SEC Softball Tournament. The Wildcats beat the Gamecocks 7-3, led by .392 team hitting and sophomore Abbey Cheek's two home runs, her second multi-HR game this season and third of her career.

Cheek said she was seeing the types of pitches that she works on in practice and likes hitting.

"If I can see the middle of the ball when I'm hitting, I know something good is going to happen," Cheek said. "I like rise balls so when I see it I"m like, 'Oh I'm about to attack this.'"

Kentucky pitcher Meagan Prince (19-7) allowed two runs off of six hits and threw four K's over seven innings.

South Carolina pitcher Nickie Blue (10-10) retired eight of the first 10 batters before the Wildcats' bats started to dial in. Facing two outs in the bottom of the third, Kentucky catcher Bailey Vick singled on a bunt. Brooklin Hinz then cracked an RBI double into right-center field, bringing Vick in from second. On the very next pitch Cheek blasted a two-run homer over the left-field wall, putting the Wildcats up 3-0.

Kentucky extended the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth. Down two outs with Kelsee Henson on third, slap-hitter Erin Rethlake's single dribbled right in front of the batter's box. South Carolina catcher Jordyn Augustus missed the throw out at first, opening the window for Henson to score from third.

South Carolina head coach Beverly Smith pulled Blue to start the bottom of the fifth, sending senior Jessica Elliot to the circle. Kentucky's offense quickly extended the lead to 7-0 off a three-run inning that included Cheek's second home run of the game.

A sixth-inning South Carolina rally looked promising, but ultimately came up short. The Gamecocks scored two runs off three hits but left two runners in scoring position.

This was Kentucky's first tournament win over South Carolina. The Wildcats had previously lost to the Gamecocks in 2000, 2001 and 2013.

UP NEXT: Kentucky faces No. 2 seed Auburn in Game 7 tomorrow. The first pitch is scheduled for 5:00 pm ET on SEC Network.