No. 17/16 Kentucky Softball come to Grein for midweek matchup

Northern Kentucky softball caps off a six-game home swing by hosting No. 17/16 Kentucky on Wednesday, March 29. The single game against the Wildcats is scheduled for a 4 p.m. ET first pitch from Grein Softball Field, and will be broadcast on the ESPN3 platform with Brady Laber on the call. Fans can stream the game live on computers, tablets and smart phones through WatchESPN or the ESPN App.

Northern Kentucky (6-19, 1-2 HL) vs. No. 17/16 Kentucky (22-6, 4-2 SEC).
Wednesday, March 29 – 4 p.m. ET
Highland Heights, Ky. – Frank Ignatius Grein Softball Field

Live Stats
ESPN3 Broadcast

LAST TIME OUT: The Norse opened up Horizon League play this past weekend, hosting the reigning HL Tournament champion Valparaiso for a three-game series. The Crusaders used a huge seventh inning to post a come-from-behind victory, 7-4, but the Norse retaliated with a 12-9 win in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader after rallying from being down five runs entering the bottom of the fifth. NKU plated nine runs between the fifth and sixth innings to take the lead. The series wrapped up with a 13-5 setback as Valpo took the series.

The Norse saw a trio of feats that had not yet been accomplished this season. Saturday’s 12-9 win marked the first time this season that NKU had recorded more than 10 runs in a game, the last time being a 15-run showing against Wagner on March 8, 2016. Individually, junior pitcher Ashlynn Roberts and freshman centerfielder Ava Lawson had some standout performances. Despite the setback on Friday, Roberts fanned a career-best 11 batters, marking the first time an NKU pitcher had at least 10 strikeouts since April 16, 2013, when Emily Schwaeble had 10 Ks against Miami (Ohio). Lawson led the Norse to the lone victory of the weekend, going 2-for-4 from the plate as she drove five runs in between her first career triple and home run. It marked the first time that a Norse had five RBI since Kate Bartolovich sent five across the plate on April 29, 2016 against Green Bay.

DOUBLE TROUBLE: NKU has ramped up its production when it comes to doubles compared to where the team was just a season ago. Twenty-five games into 2016, NKU had recorded 28 doubles on the season. This year, the Norse have posted 39 doubles to rank 22nd in the nation and top the Horizon League with 1.56 doubles per game. Senior catcher Dani Devlin leads the charge with .38 doubles per game, a number ranks second among all League players and is good for 20th in the nation.

SCOUTING KENTUCKY: The Wildcats enter Wednesday as the second team that NKU will have faced this season that ranks in the top-25 of both the USA Today/NFCA Coaches and Softball polls, the other being then-No. 12/10 Georgia on opening weekend. Despite losing its first-ever NFCA First Team All-American pitcher to graduation, Kentucky is enjoying a successful season thus far, holding a 22-6 record and most recently swept the series with No. 22 Arkansas.

The Wildcats rank well nationally in several statistical categories. As a team, Kentucky is No. 17 in the nation with a 1.60 ERA, and the players have been proven to be stealthy along the base path with 2.04 stolen bases per game, good for 20th nationally. UK is also a top-50 team in fielding percentage (.971) and home runs per game (.89). Individually, the pitching duo of Meagan Prince and Erin Rethlake have done the bulk of the work in keeping the team’s ERA low, with Prince sitting at a 1.01 ERA along with 94 strikeouts on the season, both of which are in the top-50 nationally. Rethlake, while not as much of a strikeout pitcher as Prince, boasts an equally impressive ERA of 1.17, which ranks 28th in the nation. The lefty hurler is also the team leader in stolen bases, going 16-for-16 in attempts. At the plate, Abbey Cheek leads the team with a .386 batting average with 32 hits and a team-best 24 runs batted in. The Wildcat lineup boasts five players batting above .300, with Katie Reed joining Cheek as the only other player above a .350 clip.

Wednesday marks the second time in program history that the Norse will square off with the Wildcats, opening up the series last season in Lexington. Kentucky claimed a 9-0 victory courtesy of a walk-off home run in the bottom of the fifth.

Join the Uprising!

Chloe Smith
Assistant Athletic Communications Director
Northern Kentucky University

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