Abbey Cheek leads UK Over South Carolina to advance in SEC Tournament


Kentucky freshman Abbey Cheek hits the ball during the Wildcat’s game against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels John Cropp Stadium on Wednesday, April 13, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Taylor Pence

Chase Campbell

No. 7 seeded UK softball took the field Wednesday in Knoxville against No. 10 seeded South Carolina for the first round of the SEC Tournament, with hopes of advancing to face No. 2 seeded Auburn in the quarterfinal round.

The Cats had no problem beating the Gamecocks 7-3, as UK scored all seven of their runs before the fifth inning.

Coming out of a recent slump in the batter’s box, this game belonged to slugging third baseman Abbey Cheek, who hit two homeruns for four RBI, as well as having half of the team’s eight assists. Cheek was singlehandedly responsible for more runs than the entire South Carolina offense, and she took this game for her own.

Cheek didn’t run the game on her own, however. Other players stepped up, and to the surprise of UK fans, none of those players were named Katie Reed.

Reed, the star shortstop, committed one of UK’s three errors and went 0-4 at the plate. However, six other UK players either had an RBI or earned a run, making up over half of the players that participated in Wednesday’s matchup for the Cats.

UK head coach Rachel Lawson’s pillars of urgency and timely hits have been guiding the Cats as of late, as the team scored seven unanswered runs to open the game, before allowing three Gamecock runs in the final two innings. This battle of two top-tier SEC defenses swung heavily in the favor of the Cats, as they had an unusually productive day on the offensive side of the ball.

In addition to Cheek’s superhuman performance, outfielder Brooklin Hinz has seen an extremely increased role in the batting rotation as of late, and for good reason.

Hinz earned two runs in addition to an RBI double, and there wasn’t much the Gamecock defense could do to stop her as she batted 2-3 on the day.

If the role players for the Cats can step up during the rest of the postseason, the rest of the SEC will have a scary UK team on their hands. Auburn is another defensively-focused team, a play style that is comfortable with both teams.

The Cats will now face Auburn on Thursday at 5 p.m. in the quarterfinals.