Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Mar. 7:
Softball: Chanda Bell
Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell went 2-1 on the weekend, with her lone loss coming to No. 9 Georgia Tech. Against Georgia Tech, she struck out an impressive 11 batters in just six innings of work, against one of the hottest hitting teams in the country. For the week, Bell worked 20 innings and struck out 30 batters for an average of 1.5 strikeouts per inning. With her 30 strikeouts for the weekend, Bell has now tossed over 300 strikeouts in her career and ranks second all-time in the UK career record books with 327 strikeouts. Her two victories give her 27 for her young career, which is the fourth highest total in UK history. She has appeared in just 46 career games and owns a career record of 27-10. She is on pace to break the UK career strikeout and career wins record by the beginning of her junior season.
Baseball: Logan Darnell
Week Stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 GS, 1 CG, 1 SHO, 9.0 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 SO
Junior southpaw Logan Darnell had the game of his career in a win at San Diego Friday ... Making just his third career start, Darnell tossed a complete-game shutout against the Toreros, hurling nine innings and allowing only eight hits and no runs, striking out four ... Darnell needed just 90 pitches to blank USD, throwing 70 strikes and tossing first-pitch strikes to 22-of-32 hitters ... Darnell completely handcuffed USD, a team ranked No. 19 in the Baseball America preseason top-25, facing only five hitters over the minimum of 27 and not allowing an extra-base hit ... He pounded the low part of the strike zone, forcing USD into 12 ground-ball outs and allowing his UK defense to turn a season-high four double plays ... After the game, UK head coach Gary Henderson raved on his performance: "He was tremendous. When you throw 70 strikes in 90 pitches that is getting it done at a high level. Not only did he throw a whole lot of strikes, but he did it with three pitches. It is pretty rare that you see a complete-game, 90-pitch effort in college baseball. I have to say if he doesn't win some national and conference awards for this performance, something is seriously wrong." ... The complete-game shutout marked UK's first since James Paxton twirled a shutout against Ole Miss on the final weekend of 2008 ... On the year, Darnell has totaled a 2-0 record and a 2.57 ERA in three starts, tossing 21 innings and striking out 17.
Baseball: Matt Little
Week Stats: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 save, 5 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 11 SO, .125 opp. avg.
Junior right-hander Matt Little broke out in a big way during UK's 3-1 week, posting a save and a win in two appearances in relief ... Little picked up his team-best third save of the season in Tuesday's win over Morehead State, pitching a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts to close out the win for the Wildcats ... In UK's dramatic comeback win over Monmouth, Little entered with UK trailing by six runs in the sixth inning ... Little immediately showcased his lockdown stuff striking out the first six batters he faced and fanning seven of his first eight opposing hitters ... With the UK offense slowly mounting a comeback over the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, Little held strong, going the final four innings, allowing two hits and no walks, striking out a career-best nine ... Little brought a competitiveness and spark that the Wildcats needed on the bump in the win over Monmouth, igniting the UK offensive resurgence ... UK head coach Gary Henderson was impressed by the outing from Little: "Matt Little's performance out of the bullpen was outstanding. It gave us a chance to get back into the game. It gave our club a shot of adrenaline and it brought some energy to our dugout. To go four innings with only two hits, nine punch-outs and no walks is a pretty special performance." ... Overall on the week, Little pitched five innings, allowing only two hits and issuing no walks, striking out 11 ... On the year, Little owns a 0.82 ERA with a team-high three saves, fanning 14 in 11 innings and issuing only three walks, holding opponents to a .121 average.
Softball: Natalie Smith
Senior Natalie Smith had a tremendous weekend for the Wildcats going 10-of-18 at the plate for a team-best .556 batting average. Smith charted two triples and four RBI during the week as well. The senior second baseman's stellar weekend helped her emerge on several of UK's all-time career lists. She is now eighth all-time in career hits (183) and triples (8), and 10 th all-time in career RBI (74). With a team-best seven assists this weekend she now also ranks 10 th all-time in career assists with 218. The five-game hitting streak matches a season-best streak. Her three hits in a single outing against Liberty matches a season-high.