Bell, Kentucky Down Pittsburgh 2-1
Feb. 20, 2010
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Behind a phenomenal pitching effort from sophomore Chanda Bell the Kentucky softball team defeated Pittsburgh, 2-1, in the first of two games on Saturday at the Kickoff Classic hosted by Florida Atlantic. Bell tossed 13 strikeouts on the day and did not allow a base runner until the sixth inning.
Kentucky (6-2) picked up their third straight win of the tournament and Bell earned her third victory of the season. The UK offense charted seven hits on the day including a two-hit performance from senior Natalie Smith.
Kentucky opened the game as the designated home team and Bell quickly retired the Panthers in order with three straight strikeouts to start the game.
Molly Johnson began the bottom half of the first with a leadoff walk to get a runner aboard. The senior then swiftly stole second to place a runner in scoring position with no outs. Kara Dill advanced the runner to third with a chopper back to the pitcher and then Smith brought her home with a well hit ball to the second baseman. Smith's single in the first inning extended her hitting streak to five straight games. With two outs on the scoreboard Kentucky strung together a pair of singles from Brittany Cervantes and Samantha DeMartine, but the inning ended with a groundout back to the pitcher with Kentucky leading 1-0.
Bell once again sat the Panthers down in order in the top half of the second. She earned her fourth strikeout of the game to begin the inning. She then forced the next two batters into a pop-up to Cervantes at third and a fly out to Meagan Aull in center.
Kentucky struck for another run in the bottom half of the second. With one out, Destinee Mordecai claimed a walk to place a runner on base. Johnson then earned another base when she was plucked with a pitch to place two runners on base. Dill registered a single to the second baseman when she outran the tag and Mordecai rounded all the way home on the two-out hit and run for the 2-0 UK advantage.
Bell had little trouble in the top of the third once again registering consecutive outs to end the inning without allowing a base runner. The sophomore right hander charted two more strikeouts and a pop-up to Cervantes to conclude the inning.
Aull posted the first extra-base hit of the game when she hit a one-out double into the left-center gap. Mordecai also earned a single in the inning, but UK left a pair of runners stranded without adding to its two-run lead.
In the top of the fourth Bell added to her strikeout total when she sat the top of the order down on strikes, with all three batters chasing the pitch. Her total strikeouts through four innings rose to nine.
Smith posted a two-out single in the bottom of fourth to continue her hot hitting. She scooted to second on an erroneous throw to first from the right fielder attempting to toss her out at the first bag. Cervantes drilled a shot into deep left-center, but it fell just shy of the outfield fence for the third out of the inning.
In the top of the fifth, Bell forced the first two batters into pop-flies in the outfield. She recorded her 15th consecutive out with her 10th strikeout of the game. For the first time in the game the Wildcats were retired in order in the bottom half of fifth inning.
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Pittsburgh registered its first hit of the game and placed a runner on board for the first time in the game. The Panthers had a blooper that just fell out of the reach of Smith's outstretched glove and Mordecai's attempt at a diving snag in shallow right field. Bell quickly retired the next batter with her 12th strikeout of the game.
Pitt struck for a run in the top of the seventh with a two-out solo home run over the right field wall to make the score 2-1 in favor of UK. The Panthers kept the inning alive by reaching on a fielding error by the Blue and White. The game finally came to a close when Bell forced a foul-out to Johnson.
Kentucky returns to action at 1 p.m. ET against Minnesota for its fourth game of the Florida Atlantic Kickoff Classic.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information regarding the Kentucky softball team.