Cervantes' Record-Breaking Homer Powers UK Into Tourney Finals

March 17, 2012

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - On the heels of senior Brittany Cervantes'UK all-time record-setting 36th career home run in the top of the sixth inning, the UK softball team defeated the NC State Wolfpack 7-6 to advance to the finals of the UK Softball Invitational on Saturday night in front of 1,044 fans at the UK Softball Complex.

"It's definitely a special moment to see Brittany get that career record home run," UK head coach Rachel Lawsonsaid. "She is a big part of our team and it really is an amazing accomplishment. She is such an amazing competitor. To watch her hit that home run and get that monkey off her back was a big moment for us."

With the win, Kentucky improves to 12-14 on the season with NC State dropping to 14-15 on the year. Senior Chanda Bell picks up her seventh win of the season after entering in the fifth inning and working 2.2 innings. She yielded just one hit and struck out eight of the nine batters she faced. Starter Ellen Weaverworked 4.1 innings and striking out five.

"It was cool because it shows how resilient we are as a group (to bounce back from two losses yesterday)," Lawson said. "Sometimes it's hard to get out of your own way. It was nice to see Chanda Bellfinish two games so strong and finish the day so well."

Kentucky jumped out to an early lead in the top of the first as junior Kara Dill came around to score after a lead-off single. After Cervantes sacrificed to advance Dill, senior Rachel Rileyreached on an error which also allowed Dill to cross the plate to score the game's first run.

In the bottom of the first, Landon Warren hit a lead-off double for the Wolfpack to start the NC State rally. Toni Ann Williford hit a single followed by another single from Caitlin Dent who hit a stinging line drive up the middle and then advanced to second on an error. Williford advanced to third on the misplay by the Blue and White. The error allowed Warren to score from first to score from first. Bethaney Wells hit a single and advanced on an error allowing another run to score giving NC State a 2-1 lead.

After a walk to start the bottom of the third for NC State, Dent singled and advanced on the third UK error if the game. Warren came around to score for the Wolfpack giving NC State a 3-1 lead.

In the top of the fourth, the Wildcats struck for five runs. Junior Alice O'Brienled off the top of the fourth with a deep double to center. Weaver aided her own cause with her first homer of the season when she sailed a ball over the left-center wall.

After sophomore Aubrey Lamar walked, classmate Krystal Smithreached on an error. Cervantes then laced a ball to third that on the ensuing throw the first baseman bobbled the catch allowing all of the runners to be safe with Lamar scoring on the play. Riley then drilled a double into left center plating by Smith and Cervantes for the frame's final tallies in the back-and-forth battle.

NC State answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to knot the score at six apiece. Landon Warren led off the top of the fifth inning with a home run to left center for the Wolfpack to pull the UK lead to 6-4. After a strikeout, Dent doubled to deep left for NC State to bring the tying run to the plate. Wolfpack clean-up hitter Bethaney Wells blasted a home run to deep left center to tie the game at six. The Wildcats then brought in Bell. The senior right-hander allowed an infield single, but then struck out the next two batters she faced.

In the top of the sixth, with two outs and a count full, Cervantes unloaded on a pitch to deep left-center field for a home run, which put UK up 7-6. It was Cervantes' first home run of the season, and gave her the UK career home run record with 36 home runs for her career.

Bell hung on for the win by striking out the next six batters she faced to preserve the victory in impressive fashion.

The final day of the UK Softball Invitational will take place Sunday afternoon with the consolation game taking place at 11:00 a.m. ET contested between NC State and the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The championship game will be 30 minutes following the conclusion of the consolation final between Kentucky and the UAB Blazers.

For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK Softball Invitational and the 2012 UK softball season, log on to UKathletics.com.