Alabama Softball Opens SEC Play

The top ranked Alabama Crimson Tide softball team (18-0) looks to keep its perfect season going into conference play this weekend as it travels to Lexington, Ky., to face off against the Kentucky Wildcats (10-8) in a three game series at the UK Softball Complex. The teams will face off at 5 p.m. CST, on Friday evening and then at noon on Saturday and Sunday to complete the series.

Alabama continued its perfect start to the 2012 season as it welcomed instate foe Samford in a nonconference game at Rhoads Stadium on Wednesday night, winning 7-3 while using 16 different players. Freshman pitcher Leslie Jury pitched six innings, striking out seven batters en route to improving her record to 6-0. Freshman Jadyn Spencer came off the bench to record two hits and two RBI, while senior Cassie Reilly-Boccia had two hits, including a two-run home run, and drove in three runs.

Senior first baseman Cassie Reilly-Boccia has been solid all season for the Tide, both at the plate and in the field. She is fifth on the team with a .395 (15-for-38) batting average, with three home runs, four doubles, and 17 runs batted in. Reilly-Boccia leads the team with 15 walks and has not committed a single error in her 101 chances this season. She was recently named one of 30 candidates for Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

The Wildcats enter the weekend with a 10-8 record, but they have yet to play a game at home this season due to stadium renovations.

UK participated in the Ragin' Cajun Invitational this past weekend in Lafayette, La., where it went 3-2. The Wildcats opened the tournament with a heartbreaking, 3-2, loss to Texas A&M Corpus Christi, a game in which UK gave up three runs in the final two innings, including a walk off RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to lose. The Wildcats bounced back to win their next two games, knocking off Stephen F. Austin, 8-1, in their second game and 10-2 in six innings in the third game. Kentucky lost 5-4 to host Louisiana-Lafayette in their fourth game, before defeating Nicholls State, 9-1, in six innings to end the tournament.

Freshman catcher Griffin Joiner was named SEC Freshman of the Week after being named to the All-Tournament team after hitting .517 on the weekend. Junior Kara Dill enters the weekend on a school-record 15-game hitting streak and leads the team with a .443 (27-for-61) batting average.

Senior pitcher/infielder Rachel Riley leads UK with three home runs and 15 runs batted in. Senior pitcher Chanda Bell, who recently became Kentucky's all-time leader in victories, leads the team with a 5-1 record and a 1.66 ERA in 33 2/3 innings.

Kentucky returns 15 letterwinners off of last season's 40 win team that advanced to the school's first ever Super Regional. The Wildcats are coached by Rachel Lawson, who enters her fifth season in charge. She has posted a 133-111 record in Lexington.

The Tide has dominated the series with Kentucky, owning a 35-2 all-time mark against the Wildcats. The squads did not meet last season for the first time since the inception of softball into the SEC in 1997. The three-game series between the two teams was canceled following the April 27th tornadoes. The teams last met in a 2010 doubleheader, with the Tide winning the first game 7-2 and losing the second game, 5-4. That win by UK snapped a 17-game wins streak by the Tide.

Alabama enters its SEC opening weekend with a lot of success. In league openers the Crimson Tide holds an 11-3 all-time record. In SEC opening series Alabama is 38-10 overall. The last time the Tide lost an SEC opening series was against Tennessee in 2005.

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