Cervantes' Blast Rallies UK to a Sweep of Auburn
March 16, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Freshman Brittany Cervantes' three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning clinched a series sweep of Auburn, as the Kentucky softball team rolled to an 8-0 five-inning win Monday at the UK Softball Complex. It is the first SEC sweep by a UK team since they took four games from Tennessee in 2000.
Kentucky improves to 15-6 overall on the season which also marks the best start in program history. Through 21 games, the Wildcats have 15 wins topping the 13 victories in the first 21 games set by the 2007 squad. UK has also rung up a 4-2 SEC record to start the season, while Auburn falls to 20-9 and 3-3 in the SEC.
Cervantes contributed the game-clinching bomb, but she also had a triple in the second inning to lead the Kentucky bats in the third game of the series. The round tripper is the second of the season for the freshman, and the three-RBI game matches a career-high she set against Hawaii.
"Offensively we did a great job of picking up where we left off yesterday," said head coach Rachel Lawson. "We had three very good offensive games in this series."
As equally impressive was another stellar outing by freshman right-hander Chanda Bell. She threw five scoreless innings and fanned another 10 Tiger batters. In her three appearances, she tossed 13 innings and struck out 27 batters while improving her record to 10-3 on the year.
"Chanda dominated on the mound again today," Lawson said. "In the fourth inning she really proved she was a big-game pitcher after she allowed a hit and fired back with three straight strikeouts."
UK, as a team, enjoyed a well-rounded series against the Tigers. The Wildcats batted .344 as a team compared to Auburn's .125 average. The Blue and White generated eight extra-base hits, including four home runs, while defensively the squad did not commit an error in the three-game set.
Sophomore Megan Yocke was a machine at the plate going 4-for-7 with a slugging percentage of an astounding 1.571 for the series. She tallied game one's walk-off home run, two triples while also showing her unselfishness at the plate with a pair of sacrifice hits.
Four Kentucky batters hit over .500 for the three games led by Yocke's .571 average. Sophomore Meagan Aull went 4-for-8 which included her three-run home run in game two. Cervantes was .500 for the weekend, along with sophomore Annie Rowlands who had a 2-for-4 series and an on-base percentage of .667.The Blue and White scratched the scoreboard in the bottom half of the first inning to grab a lead that would never be threatened. Junior Molly Johnson led off with an infield single and moved to second on Aull's base hit that dropped in shallow left field. Yocke advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, and junior Natalie Smith's groundout to second allowed Johnson to tap home for the first tally of the game.
UK added two runs in the home half of the second when Cervantes tripled to right center to lead off the inning. Rowlands brought her home with a single into right field, and then junior Destinee Mordecai would round home on an error by the Tigers' right-fielder.
Kentucky moved ahead 4-0 in the third inning as Yocke led off with a walk. After two outs, Yocke advanced to third and eventually came home on a passed ball by Auburn's catcher.
The Wildcats struck for the game-winning runs in the bottom half of the fifth, as Aull began the inning by reaching base on a miss-handled grounder by Auburn's second baseman. She shifted to second on a wild pitch and was in position to score when Yocke laid down a sacrifice bunt. During the play to first Yocke was struck in the back in the throw attempt to first allowing her to reach first base. Aull's heads-up running allowed her to continue moving and tap home for the first run of the inning.
Smith followed Yocke on base after getting plucked in the shoulder to earn a base. Sophomore Samantha DeMartine moved the runners ahead a bag with a sacrifice bunt, but it wouldn't matter as Cervantes blasted a shot over the left field fence for the three-run game-clinching home run.
Kentucky will have little rest before hitting the field again. UK travels to Oxford, Ohio, to face Miami (OH) for a non-conference doubleheader tomorrow, Tuesday, March 17. The two squads will begin game one at 2 p.m. ET.