Softball Suffers Heartbreaking Loss in Ninth Inning
AUBURN, Ala. -- Auburn plated a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning to claim the rubber match with the Wildcats by a 1-0 margin Sunday afternoon. Kentucky's offense stalled and left nine runners stranded throughout the game in the loss.
Kentucky drops to 15-8 on the season and 1-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn improves to 15-7 and 2-1 in the SEC. Sophomore pitcher Rachel Riley tossed eight shutout innings before yielding the winning run in the home half of the ninth. The right-hander was near spectacular as she struck out five and allowed just two walks throughout the day.
Auburn began the ninth with a single that split the left side. After a sacrifice bunt, the Tigers placed runners on the corners with a single into shallow left field. The home team attempted a squeeze bunt and the batter got on the base but, the lead runner did not advance. On the next at-bat, Auburn sent a line drive back up the middle to score a walk-off RBI single and claim the series with UK.
Kentucky had its best chance in the early going when Riley drilled a ball that just nicked off the left field wall; falling about two feet shy of clearing the fence in the fourth. Kara Dill then singled into right field, but UK would leave two runners aboard as the inning ended on a strikeout and a pop-up.
In the top half of the fifth, Destinee Mordecai began the inning by earning a walk. With a single out, Molly Johnson sliced a single through the left side. The frame ended with UK having two runners aboard as Kentucky suffered a pop-up and a fly-out to end the inning.
Auburn's best chance came in the bottom of the sixth. The Tigers led off with a base hit single, but Riley got the next batter to strikeout. Another single placed runners on the corners. Kentucky then came up with quality defense when Riley forced a grounder to third. Auburn sent the runner on third and Brittany Cervantes calmly scooped up the ball and tossed it to Megan Yocke at home who tagged her out protecting the scoreless tie. The final out of the inning came when Annie Rowlands snagged a deep fly ball in left field to end the inning and the threat.
Yocke posted a one-out single up the middle in the top of the eighth, but UK left her on base as the inning ended on back-to-back outs.
Mordecai registered a two-out triple that plucked off the center field fence about a foot shy of clearing the wall. UK would leave the runner on base with the inning ending on a pop-up to the shortstop.
Kentucky will return to action on Tuesday in a conference doubleheader at home with No. 10 Alabama. UK and the Crimson Tide will hit the field at 1:30 p.m. ET at the UK Softball Complex for a two-game set.
Live stats and complete coverage of the UK softball team in Auburn can be found at UKathletics.com.