Comeback Cats Strike for Another Extra-Inning Win

Feb. 27, 2011

Box Score

STANFORD, Calif. - The 24th-ranked Kentucky softball team needed some late-game heroics to top North Dakota State 5-4 in extra innings Sunday to cap off the Stanford Nike Invitational. Trailing by two and down to its final out of the game, junior Brittany Cervantes plated two runs to tie the score and force extra innings. For the second time this season, UK prevailed in extra frames this time winning on freshman Lauren Cumbess' successful suicide-squeeze bunt.

Kentucky improves to 11-3 on the season with the win, while North Dakota State falls to 6-9. UK has now won at least three games in every early season tournament it has played this year.

Trailing by two runs going into its last chance at the plate, pinch hitter Aubrey Lamar drew a one-out walk to put a runner on the base paths. Senior Megan Yocke then sent a sizzling chopper to the third baseman that she mishandled allowing the tying run to reach base. Sophomore Kara Dill executed a perfectly timed sacrifice bunt to shift both runners into scoring position setting the stage for the reigning SEC Player of the Week. Cervantes then delivered one of the biggest hits of the season when she sent a rocket up the middle to plate both runners to knot the score at four apiece.

Yocke led the bats with a 2-for3 day at the dish that included a solo home run in the third inning. The nearby Sunnyvale, Calif., native charted at least two hits in every game in front of her hometown crowd this weekend. Cumbess charted her second consecutive two-hit outing with the 2-for-3 day and the game's winning-RBI hit. Aull continued her hitting streak with a 1-for-3 day and Dill plated a run on an RBI walk in the fifth.

Junior right-hander Chanda Bell wins her fifth game of the season. Bell entered the game in relief in the fifth stanza and yielded four runs in the fifth to fall behind. The Indianapolis native concluded the game in the winning circle following a stellar final two innings. Cumbess started the game on the mound and worked 4.0 innings of action. The first-year player gave up just three hits and allowed two runs while striking out six in her second career start.

North Dakota state singled to start the bottom half of the seventh to get the winning-run aboard. The Bison then executed a sacrifice bunt to move the runner into scoring position, but Bell forced the second out of the inning behind a strikeout. UK's ace capped the inning with her second consecutive strikeout swinging to give Kentucky a chance going into extra innings.

With the international rule in effect to begin the eighth, Cervantes was placed on second to open the frame. Aull executed a masterful sacrifice bunt to shift the runner into prime scoring position. Senior Samantha DeMartine then drew a walk to put runners on the corners and North Dakota State opted to bring in a new pitcher in Randi Parks. Immediately, Kentucky turned to its crafty base running with a suicide-squeeze being relayed into the batter. Cumbess executed the play perfectly to plate Cervantes and lift UK to a 5-4 edge.

The Bison began with a runner on second and opened with the No. 5 hitter in the bottom of the eighth. With a 2-2 count, Bell forced a grounder to Cervantes at third for the first out of the inning without allowing the runner to advance. A fly-out to senior Annie Rowlands in left field brought the game to its final out. UK capped off the comeback with a grounder to Dill at short to preserve the 5-4 win.

Yocke continued her hot-hitting weekend with a two-out solo home run in the top of the third to lift UK to a 1-0 edge. With the round tripper, Yocke registered at least two hits in every game of the Stanford Nike Invitational.

UK added another run in the top of the fifth thanks to three consecutive walks. Cumbess led off the stanza with a double off of the left field fence. Following a fly-out to left, freshman Emily Gaines earned the first walk of the frame. A strikeout placed two outs on the scoreboard, bringing the Wildcats back to the top of the order. North Dakota State opted to walk Yocke to load the bases. Dill then drew four balls to bring in the second run of the game for a 2-0 edge.

The Bison captured the lead by a 4-2 margin in the home half of the fifth behind four runs on four hits.

UK earned its first extra-inning win of the season in a comeback effort against DePaul in the opening weekend of action.

Kentucky returns to action at the Southern Illinois Tournament March 5-6. UK will play the host squad, Southern Illinois, as well as SIUE, Wright State and Purdue in the two-day tournament.

Complete coverage of the Wildcat softball team all season long can be found at UKathletics.com.