Homers Not Enough to Propel UK Past UCLA
Feb. 11, 2012
LOS ANGELES - Despite the squad's first back-to-back home runs of the season from sophomores Ginny Carroll and Krystal Smith, the No. 13 Kentucky softball team could not overcome the powerful offense of No. 19 UCLA in its final game at the Stacy Windsberg Memorial Tournament in Los Angeles. UCLA prevailed behind a 6-2 score. Kentucky's offense missed out on several opportunities to plate scores as the Wildcats stranded eight total runners in scoring position in the game.
With the loss, Kentucky concludes the weekend 1-3 and UCLA improves to 4-0 to begin the season. The long balls by the sophomore tandem marked the first career homers from both batters.
Kentucky will resume action Friday, Feb. 17 with a pair of games at the Florida Atlantic Tournament in Boca Raton, Fla. UK will play Maryland (11 a.m.) and Wright State (1 p.m. ) to begin the three-day tournament.
The Blue and White logged its first back-to-back homers of the year when Carroll opened the second inning with a shot over the left-center wall. Smith followed suit with a towering bomb over the left field fence that cleared the scoreboard to help the Wildcats pull to within one at 3-2.
Kentucky began the opening stanza strong when senior Brittany Cervantes drew a leadoff walk. Senior Rachel Riley and sophomore Emily Jolly followed suit to load the bases for the Blue and White, but the visitors could not convert the excellent opportunity as the inning concluded on a pop-up to short with the bases still jammed.
UCLA struck first with three runs in the home half of the first. The Bruins benefited from a pair of UK errors and tallied three hits to plate three unearned runs and charge ahead 3-0.
With Kentucky responding with a pair of runs Riley induced a pair of outs to open the bottom of the second. The Bruins then managed a lucky double that just laced the right field line, but Smith came up with a nifty grab and pitch to help the Wildcats escape the inning unscathed.
UCLA looked as if it would extend its lead in the home half of the third as the Bruins loaded the bases with just one out. Riley first got a Bruin to ground to Aubrey Lamar at third who astutely tossed it home for the force out. The senior right-hander then forced a fly-out to Jolly in center to exit the inning without further damage.
Kentucky fell in order in the top of the fourth, and UCLA responded by getting consecutive base runners aboard thanks to a pair of singles. Riley then induced a grounder to Smith who came up with a spectacular double-play effort by tagging the runner moving from first to second and then tossing the ball to sophomore Lauren Cumbess at first to complete the play. Smith again received a grounder during the next at-bat and calmly snared the ball and made the out to prevent further scores by the home team.
UCLA returned the favor to the Wildcats as UK placed consecutive runners aboard to begin the fifth. Cervantes drew her second walk of the game and junior Kara Dill smacked her first hit of the season through the left side. Riley moved the runners ahead a bag with a slow grounder back to second base, but UK suffered consecutive outs with runners in scoring position.
The Bruins finally capitalized on an opportunity in the fifth to surge ahead 6-2 behind three runs in the frame. UCLA plated the scores behind five hits and one more UK error.
Carroll logged a one-out walk in the top of the sixth and Smith advanced the runner with a well-placed sacrifice bunt in an attempt to jump-start the offense. The Wildcats could not put together an offensive rhythm, however, as the inning closed on a strikeout.
Despite committing its fourth error of the game, UK held the Bruins scoreless in the sixth persevering the four-run deficit for a late-game rally attempt.
Dill earned her second hit of the game with a one-out single into shallow center field in the top of the seventh. Dill then swiped her second base of the game to move into scoring position, but the inning concluded on consecutive outs again with UK leaving a runner in scoring position.
Follow along with the UK softball program all season long at UKathletics.com.