Jump to SEC live stats and information FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas softball team makes its return to the Southeastern Conference Tournament Thursday facing host and second-seed Georgia in the opening game in Athena, Ga. Arkansas (26-34) enters the tournament as the seventh seed returning to the league championship for the first time since 2002. "The kids are really excited," said head coach Jamie Pinkerton. "Right now, they are really focused on classes and finals but we worked out yesterday and they are just really excited about playing. They’re ready to get back to softball." Arkansas opens with second-seed and 10th ranked Georgia on the Bulldogs home field. The Lady’Backs faced Georgia four times already this year first, opening the season against the Bulldogs at the Diamond Fun and Sun Classic in Florida. Arkansas next opened the SEC schedule in Athens, going 1-2 against Georgia defeating the Bulldogs on their home field. "Facing Georgia is a tough task," said Pinkerton, "but I fell like we’re up for the challenge. We’re ready to go and excited to see what happens." Arkansas has enjoyed an up-and-down season under Pinkerton in the skipper’s second season with the Lady’Backs. Wins over ranked teams including No. 24 Iowa, No. 12 Georgia and two against No. 11 LSU have highlighted one of the nation’s toughest schedules. Three seniors are making their first appearance at the SEC Tournament. Leading the charge are seniors Shana Easley, Mindy O’Malley and Blaire Perry, all starters for Arkansas. Sophomore right-hander Katy Henry is expected to start in the circle for Arkansas. Henry is the ace of the pitching staff with a 2.47 earned run average and a 15-16 record in 42 appearances. Henry has started 28 games and recorded five shutouts and four saves this year. Perry leads the team offensively with a .299 hitting percentage, a .341 slugging percentage and a .324 on base mark. She is closely followed by O’Malley who is hitting .277 with a .345 slugging percentage and a .332 on base average. Easley ranks fourth on the team hitting .238 this year. SEC Tournament action opens with No. 5 seeded Florida facing fourth-seed Tennessee in the opener at 11:00 a.m. Eight seed Mississippi makes its first appearance in school history at the SEC Tournament facing No. 1 Alabama at 1:30 p.m., followed by No. 2 Georgia hosting No. 7 Arkansas at 4:00 p.m. No. 3 LSU meets No. 6 Auburn at 6:30 p.m., as first day action concludes. Lady’Back fans can listen to all of the action live on KXUA, 88.3 FM or on the internet at LADYBACKS.COM. For more information about the 2006 SEC Softball Tournament or about Arkansas softball, please log on to LADYBACKS.COM.