Softball Opens With a Pair of Big Wins

Feb. 14, 2009

Box Score (Oregon) | Box Score (Hawaii)

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - For the fourth consecutive season the Kentucky softball team are winners to open the season. The Blue and White opened with a pair of impressive victories in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic hosted by UNLV. Kentucky scored wins over Oregon and Hawaii in sub-40 degree temperatures to open the year.

Kentucky (2-0) defeated Oregon 11-9 in the first game and then followed that with an 8-0 win in five innings over Hawaii. UK's victories over the two clubs is a great start to begin the year as both opponents began the season receiving votes in the top-25 polls.

"The entire team did a great job competing in all facets of the game," said head coach Rachel Lawson. "We were aggressive on the base paths, had timely hitting from all spots in the lineup and had two solid performances in the circle."

Freshman Chanda Bell achieved her first collegiate victory in UK's win over Oregon. Junior Amber Matousek tallied her first shutout of the season with the five-inning win over Hawaii.

At the plate, UK got three hits from sophomore Annie Rowlands and junior Natalie Smith between the two games. Kentucky also blasted three home runs in their two victories off the bats of Rowlands, sophomore Megan Yocke and freshman Brittany Cervantes.

The Wildcats opened at the plate against Oregon and immediately plated two runs. Sophomore Meagan Aull reached base from the leadoff slot when she was plucked by a pitch. Aull advanced to second when Smith grounded out to the pitcher. During Smith's at-bat, Aull was able to scoot over to second on an errant pitch. Johnson reached base on a walk and then promptly stole second to give UK two base runners in scoring position. Cervantes sent a well-hit ball to the second baseman that was mishandled allowing both Aull and Johnson to come home for the early lead.

Kentucky would score three more runs in the third inning to take a 5-0 edge. Aull once again got things going for UK as she singled and swiped second. Smith's single scored Aull from second and then Smith rounded the base paths after Yocke's single was muffed by the left fielder. Yocke scored on a Samantha DeMartine single.

The Wildcats added four more runs in the fourth to push their lead to 9-0. In the inning UK got hits from Rowlands, a sacrifice fly from Smith and then Cervantes' bomb.

Oregon began to creep back into the game with a home run in the fourth. UK responded with a run in the top of the fifth when freshman Erika Silence crossed home on an Aull double.

That's when things really started to get interesting. The Ducks had a five-run fifth inning and then a three-run sixth inning to bring the score to 10-9.

Needing a run to help pad the lead a bit, Rowlands stepped to the plate and cracked a solo shot over the left field fence to give UK its final margin 11-9. Bell held off another Duck rally as the designated home squad left two runners stranded in the bottom of the seventh.

In the second game on the frigid night, UK once again got off to a quick start. The Blue and White plated seven early runs in the first inning to take a lead that would never be threatened. Aull began the game by taking a pitch for the second straight time. Smith followed with a single and then Johnson laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners into scoring position setting the stage for Yocke.

The sophomore catcher lofted a shot over the center field wall to ignite the Wildcat bats. UK wasn't done yet, as Cervantes reached on a fielding error by Hawaii's shortstop. DeMartine singled and both runners advanced on a wild pitch during Destinee Mordecai's at-bat. Mordecai walked to load the bases. Rowlands singled and scored two runs. Mordecai would come around to score on a single from Smith.

Kentucky's other run came in the second inning. DeMartine walked after the Wildcats opened with two outs. Mordecai ripped a triple down the right field line and DeMartine walked in for the 8-0 UK advantage.

Matousek held tough in the circle to preserve the second UK victory of the night. The junior tossed five innings yielding no runs and giving up just four hits. She fanned seven batters on the night and gave up a mere two walks for her first win of the season.

After playing the late shift and not leaving the field until after midnight, Kentucky will have a short turnaround before facing two top-15 teams tomorrow. UK plays DePaul at 11:15 and then No. 4 UCLA at 3:45 for its two games of the day.

Complete coverage of the UK softball team can be found at www.ukathletics.com.