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Heartbreak hotel for softball, baseball

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One could only imagine the feeling Rachel Lawson's club had to experience Thursday evening as the Kentucky softball team suffered a devastating 2-1 walk-off loss.

Leading 1-0 in the top of the seventh inning behind a Molly Johnson solo home run and a sparkling pitching performance by sophomore Chanda Bell, a more than three-hour rain delay halted action in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament with just mere outs to go.

Even when play resumed, Kentucky looked like it was headed to an upset in the first round for the second straight year. Sophomore Rachel Riley, who came on in relief of Bell in the sixth inning, recorded two quick outs in the final frame.

However, with just one out to go, LSU staged a dramatic comeback.  After Allison Falcon ripped a double, Kirsten Shortridge belted a two-out, walk-off home run to down UK 2-1.

It's a scene that's been all too familiar for Kentucky teams on the diamond this season.
Just two days earlier, the UK baseball led by eight runs heading into bottom of the eighth inning only to suffer a shocking walk-off loss in a wild 18-17 loss to Indiana. 

It is safe to say that heartbreak and devastation have certainly not eluded the UK baseball and softball teams this year.

For those of you keeping tabs at home, the baseball team has now suffered five walk-off losses this season, including blown leads against at Louisville and at Arkansas. 

While softball's gut-wrenching loss in Thursday's SEC Tournament was softball's first-walk off defeat of the season, it was not its first late-game loss. On the year, the team has dropped five games when leading after five innings.

Against No. 2 Michigan two weeks ago, the UK softball team dropped back-to-back games to the Wolverines heading into the sixth inning with a lead.

Two things I take from the late-game losses by both teams: One, I wonder how much better shape each team would be in if they nailed things down late in games and churned out a few more wins. And two, I also wonder how close the teams are to a breaking point.

Both teams have responded admirably to tough losses all season long, but I'm also a firm believer that there comes a point when heartbreaking losses start to add up. There is only so much devastation a team's morale can take.

I am certainly not predicting that the wheels are about to come off for both teams after a difficult week, because, as I said above, both teams have responded time and time again.

But with the season dwindling down and the stakes becoming higher and higher by the day, now is the time to put the walk-off losses behind them. One more heartbreaking loss at this time of the year and the teams won't have a chance to bounce back - it will mean an offseason of heartache.

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