Gamecock Softball Makes 1st SEC Tourney Under Smith

COLUMBIA, S.C. (USC SID) — With the win over No. 2/3 Florida in the final game of the regular season, South Carolina claimed a spot in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Tournament, where the Gamecocks will take on host and seventh-seeded Kentucky in the first round at 6:30 p.m. EDT on Wed., May 8. The Gamecocks get their first postseason berth since 2007, going 8-16 in SEC play and winning the tiebreaker over Mississippi State by virtue of the series sweep in Starkville a weekend ago. At 31-22, South Carolina has clinched its first winning season since 2007. Both are the first for the Gamecocks under Beverly Smith, who is in her third year as head coach. Kentucky enters the tournament coming off a road series win at No. 7/8 Alabama, pushing their record to 38-17, 13-11 in SEC play. The Wildcats came to Carolina Softball Stadium at Beckham Field earlier this year, taking all three games in Columbia. In SEC Tournament play, the Gamecocks are 15-15 all-time, winning the 1997 and 2000 events. Twice, South Carolina and Kentucky have met in the tournament, both in first-round action in 2000 and 2001, with the Gamecocks winning both times. All-time, South Carolina holds a 35-21 mark over Kentucky, including a 15-10 advantage in Lexington. Last season, the Wildcats won the series with victories in the final two games over April 6-8. The winner of the South Carolina-Kentucky matchup faces second-seeded Tennessee on Thursday, with first pitch set for 4 p.m. EDT. Florida claimed the top seed in the tournament and won both the SEC regular-season crown and the Eastern Division title, while LSU won the SEC West. All nine games of the single-elimination tournament will be televised nationally, with the Gamecocks‘ contest on Wednesday set for ESPNU.

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