Two defensive-minded teams collide in SEC Tournament


The Kentucky Wildcats softball team takes the line for the National Anthem prior to the game against the Florida Gators at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday, April 15, 2017 in Lexington, KY. 

Chase Campbell

On Wednesday, the UK softball team will compete in the single-elimination SEC Tournament in Knoxville, hosted by the University of Tennessee. The Cats will enter the tournament as the No. 7 seed.

Their first matchup will be against South Carolina, the 10th seed in the tournament. First pitch is set for 5:00 p.m. If the Cats advance, they will face No. 2 seeded Auburn in the quarterfinals.

Players to Watch:

Bailey Vick (Leftfielder, UK, Freshman): Vick has recently been awarded a spot on the All-SEC Defensive team and the All-SEC Freshman team. She has incredible speed to the ball and until recently, has led the team in overall batting average. She was a key contributor in UK’s huge series win over Texas A&M, and is always a threat to beat out a throw, even if she bunts it. She’ll also steal bases in the blink of an eye, having the third- most on the team with 11. Watch for her to give the Cats a lot of energizing plays that will get them rolling.

Katie Reed (Shortstop, UK, Sophomore): Reed is debatably the best and most valuable player on this UK team. She was awarded a spot on the All-SEC First team, in the company of some of the greatest players in the nation. She boasts the best batting average on the team at .355, recently taking over that statistic from Vick, and she’s also a threat to steal as well, with 15 stolen bases on the season. Reed is a fearless player, as proven when she stole home plate in the 11-inning spectacle against Mississippi State. She easily outpaces the rest of her team in hits with 65, and her value as a leadoff batter for the Cats doesn’t go underappreciated.

Kaylea Snaer (First Baseman, USC, Senior): Snaer is easily the leader on this defensive Gamecock team, being the lone player from the school to make the All-SEC Defensive team. She’s also one of the six seniors on the team, so she has postseason experience. Snaer has started all games for the Gamecocks over the last two seasons, and is the premier first baseman in the SEC. She made the All-Freshman team in the 2014 season at the same position, and has made conference offenses fear hitting towards the right side for all four of her years at USC.

South Carolina:

The Cats haven’t faced South Carolina this year, but the Gamecocks won’t be very far removed from the team UK swept last year, featuring only three freshmen.

The Gamecocks, like UK, are a defensive team, focused on limiting runs. They also have the second-lowest batting average in the conference, only behind Auburn.

However, when they do make contact, they’re prone to go for extra bases, as they boast 23 more extra base hits than the Cats on the season.

Their struggle against the Cats will be a defensive one; so don’t be surprised if either team puts up very many runs. The Gamecocks are an entirely up-front, grind-it-out team that doesn’t steal very many bases, but will rely on big individual batting performances and huge scoring plays to get their runs.