March 16, 2012


South Carolina visits Kentucky to highlight weekend slate


The SEC begins conference play this weekend, and the most intriguing match-up occurs in Lexington, Ky.


Two-time defending national champion South Carolina brings a 15-1 record into a three-game series with 18-0 Kentucky, the last undefeated team in Division I. The Gamecocks have won 14 home games and lost its lone away game, a 6-5 defeat at Clemson on March 4. South Carolina has had outstanding pitching, holding opponents to two runs or less 13 times in 16 contests. The Wildcats, under head coach Gary Henderson (pictured) will get their first stern test, with no eye-popping wins yet this season.


Other SEC series include Vanderbilt (7-10) at Florida (16-1), Tennessee (10-6) at Georgia (13-5), Alabama (8-9) at Arkansas (16-2), Mississippi State (14-5) at LSU (14-3) and Auburn (10-7) at Ole Miss (14-3).


The ACC moves into its second weekend of conference play with North Carolina (3-0, 14-3) visiting Maryland (0-3, 13-4). The Terps had a terrific start to the season before being swept at Wake Forest last weekend. The Tar Heels won three at Clemson and look stay on top of the Coastal Division. The Demon Deacons (3-0, 16-4) take a 15-game win streak to NC State (2-1, 12-3). The Wolfpack won its opening series at home against Georgia Tech. The other ACC action has the Yellow Jackets hosting Virginia Tech (1-2, 14-4), Virginia (2-1, 11-5-1) at Florida State (3-0, 14-2), Miami (3-0, 14-3) at Duke (0-3, 7-12) and Boston College (0-3, 6-8) at Clemson (0-3, 6-8). The FSU-UVa series will run Saturday through Monday, with the games on Saturday and Monday being televised on ESPNU.


The Pac-12 starts league play this weekend with 10 of the 11 teams in action. Stanford (13-2) is idle for exams. Arizona State (11-5) will travel to UCLA (13-3) in the most interesting set. The Bruins have an 11-game win streak after a sweep at Georgia last weekend and a win over USC on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. The Sun Devils are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, so their ultimate prize is the Pac-12 regular-season crown. Oregon State (11-5) goes to California (11-4), Washington State (9-6) visits Arizona (14-3), Oregon (12-3) heads to Washington (10-6) and Utah (4-11) makes its Pac-12 debut at USC (12-4).


The Big 12 kicks off conference action with Texas (7-8) traveling to Oklahoma (11-6). The Longhorns have had a disappointing start, but will look at this as the start of the rest of the season. Texas Tech (12-5) will go to Baylor (11-7) and Texas A&M (14-4) hosts Kansas State (11-6).


UNC Wilmington (3-0, 7-9) follows up its sweep of James Madison by heading to Delaware (2-1, 7-9) in CAA action. Two of the preseason favorites in the Northeast Conference tangle as Sacred Heart (1-10) hosts Central Connecticut State (4-5).


A key series in the A-Sun has Kennesaw State (9-8) heading to Mercer (13-5). Florida Atlantic (11-7) goes to FIU (8-7) and ULM (12-6) hosts Louisiana-Lafayette (10-7) as Sun Belt play begins.


Texas State (2-1, 11-5) hosts Stephen F. Austin (1-2, 6-10), Nicholls (2-1, 10-7) entertains Sam Houston State (2-1, 9-7) and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi (2-1, 9-8) welcomes Southeastern Louisiana (1-2, 13-5) in key Southland Conference series. The Mountain West starts league play with TCU (8-6) at UNLV (10-7).


An interesting non-conference series has Dallas Baptist (10-6) at A-10 favorite Charlotte (10-7). Oral Roberts (9-7), the perennial pick in the Summit, continues its four-game series with Missouri State (12-6) after a 1-0 win for the Golden Eagles on Thursday. Purdue (13-1) continues its set at Wichita State (10-9) after an 8-3 win Thursday. Kent State (7-6), the pick to win the MAC, plays at Pepperdine (13-4). Delaware State (3-0, 10-6-1), the team with the best record in the MEAC, entertains Cornell (7-1), the top team so far in the Ivy League.


Enjoy the weekend.


(photo courtesy of UK Media Relations Office)