No. 20 Lafayette Wins in Nine Innings

Feb. 21, 2009

Box Score

LAFAYETTE, La. - A three-run ninth inning lifted No. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette past Kentucky, 5-2, in a thrilling nine-inning affair that lasted almost three hours on a brisk evening in Lafayette, La., Friday afternoon. The two teams will face each other again, as part of the second game of UK's two-games on Saturday of the Mardi Gras Classic.

Kentucky (4-3) had its chances late in the game, but could not convert on its offensive opportunities stranding 11 base runners throughout the game--including three in the bottom of the seventh.

Freshman pitcher Chanda Bell went the distance for the Wildcats tossing all nine innings of action and yielding four earned runs while striking out seven batters. Junior Molly Johnson led the offense going 2-for-4, which included two big-time situation hits in the seventh and ninth innings.

The Ragin Cajuns put two runners on base to open the top half of the first as the designated visitors, but could not convert as Bell was able to get out of the inning unscathed.

To open the bottom of the frame, Johnson and Natalie Smith both earned a base. Johnson was hit by a pitch and Smith took four balls to put runners on with no outs. Freshman Brittany Cervantes sent a well-hit ball into shallow centerfield, but Lafayette's fielder made a nice play to snag the ball before it dropped for the first out of the inning. Sophomore Megan Yocke attempted a sacrifice bunt, but the speedy catcher was able to lay down the bunt towards the left field line and beat out the throw for a single to load the bases. Sophomore Samantha DeMartine continued her hot start to the season with a timely single into left field to score Johnson and Smith for the early 2-0 edge. The inning ended on back-to-back strikeouts leaving two runners on base.

Neither team scratched the scoreboard in the second inning before the Ragin Cajuns tallied back-to-back one-out infield hits to put runners on in the top half of the third. A double to the left-center wall tied the score at two apiece. The inning ended when Bell got her first strikeout of the game and then the final out came on a fly out to Johnson in shallow center.

UK had an opportunity in the bottom of the stanza, but left a runner stranded on third. Cervantes opened the inning with a walk but was called out during Yocke's at-bat. The catcher reached on a fielder's choice and then quickly stole second. During the swipe, the throw to the bag skipped into left-center and she was able to move to third. However, Kentucky could not convert as the inning ended after back-to-back outs.

The game turned into a defensive battle through the middle of the game. For three straight innings neither team could muster any offense. UK let another opportunity slip by in the in the bottom half of the sixth. DeMartine got plucked with a pitch in the thigh on a one-out at-bat. Then junior Destinee Mordecai earned a two-out walk, however UK struck out to end the inning stranding two more runners.

With the game tied at two, Kentucky's first-year hurler stepped up for a shut-out inning in the top of the seventh. Bell put together her most impressive inning of the game with three straight strikeouts to keep Lafayette out of the base paths and no opportunity to score, leaving the game in the hands of UK's offense.

The Wildcats' best opportunity of the night came in the bottom of the seventh. Johnson jump-started the offense with a one-out single up the middle. Smith doubled into right center to put runners into scoring position, but Cervantes grounded out to the first baseman and was unable to advance any runners. With two outs, Yocke drew a walk to load the bases. DeMartine's chopper to the shortstop ended the inning and through seven innings played the score remained tied at two.

Bell once again had a strong inning in the top of the eighth retiring the top of Lafayette's order three-up and three-down.

Kentucky had its chances for the second inning in a row. Mordecai earned a base after a catcher's interference and then stole second. However, UK ended the inning on back-to-back strikeouts taking the game into the ninth.

Kentucky returns to action tomorrow for two games. UK will play UConn and then meet Louisiana-Lafayette for the second time in a Saturday afternoon doubleheader.

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