Kentucky Splits Doubleheader with Arkansas

March 21, 2009

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark.  –  After equaling the longest winning streak in school history with an 11-4 victory in game one, the Kentucky softball team dropped an 8-5 decision in game two to earn a split with Arkansas Saturday afternoon. UK registered its eight straight win in game one, but then could not mount a comeback in game two after falling behind 3-1 in the first inning.

Freshman Brittany Cervantes had a spectacular day at the plate going a combined 5-for-8 which included a pair of home runs. The first-year player also had a double and combined for five RBI over the two games. Freshman pitcher Chanda Bell earned her 12 th win of the season as she matched her own school-record with 15 strikeouts. She has now had 15 strikeouts in a game three times, including twice in conference play.

Kentucky's record moves to 18-7 overall and 5-3 in the conference, while Arkansas holds a 17-10 and 6-1 record. The series will be decided in tomorrow's rubber-match which will begin at 2 p.m. ET.

The bats were out in full-swing in game one for Kentucky as they strung together 10 hits and a season-high 11 runs as they topped Arkansas for the Razorbacks' first loss in the SEC.

Kentucky jumped out in front with a run in the visitors' side of the first inning of game one. Junior Molly Johnson earned a base after sending a well hit ground ball that the Razorbacks' shortstop bobbled. The speedy Johnson took the opportunity and was able to safely reach first base. Johnson then swiped her 17 th base of the season and during the exchange from the catcher to the shortstop the ball sailed into shallow right-center and the heady Johnson moved over to third putting her in prime scoring position. Junior Natalie Smith converted the opportunity when she split the right side for an RBI single giving UK the 1-0 advantage.

UK scored a season-best seven runs in the top of the second to pull away from the Razorbacks. In an inning that featured two more Razorback errors and two UK hits the Wildcats capitalized on the Arkansas miscues. Cervantes lead off and sent a chopper to second that skipped off the Razorbacks' second baseman's glove for an error. Sophomore Megan Yocke advanced the runner with a sacrifice bunt and then junior Destinee Mordecai walked placing runners on the corners. Senior Katie McCarty singled down the right field line to score Cervantes and placed Mordecai on third. Freshman pinch runner Macy Allen stole second and another bad relay from home to the second base bag allowed Mordecai to walk home.

The next two batters, sophomore Annie Rowlands and Johnson, were both plucked with a pitch to load the bases. Sophomore Meagan Aull sent a fly ball into deep left field to score Allen and advance the other two runners, and then Smith followed by earning another base after getting struck with the pitch. Sophomore Samantha DeMartine posted an RBI walk, keeping the bases loaded. That's when Cervantes delivered a two-run single that found a gap in right-center. DeMartine tapped home for the seventh run of the inning on a wild pitch giving UK a commanding 8-0 lead.

Arkansas fired back in the home half of the second with three runs of their own to make the score 8-3.

UK tallied another run in the top of the third after Mordecai was plucked with a pitch to lead off the inning. Aull brought her home with a single that dropped into shallow center field for a 9-3 UK lead.

The Blue and White posted another run in the fourth when DeMartine launched a rocket over the center field wall for her second home run of the season making the score 10-3 in favor of the Wildcats.

Arkansas put a run up on the board in the bottom of the fourth bringing the score to 10-4.

Cervantes helped UK equal a season-high of 11 runs scored with a solo home run in the top of the sixth. The freshman led off with a solid at-bat and with a 2-2 count she lofted it over the left field fence for Kentucky's final 11-4 margin.

UK wasted little time in jumping out in front in game two as Johnson singled through the left side to lead off. Cervantes brought her home with an RBI single that fell into left field for the 1-0 edge.

The Razorbacks fired back with four runs over the next two innings, highlighted by a two-run home run in the first to take a 4-1 lead.

Johnson ignited a rally for the Blue and White in the visitors' half of the third. The junior shortstop drilled her 16 th career home run over the left center wall to lead off for UK. Aull followed with a single up the middle and she would come home off of a pair of errors by the Razorbacks to bring Kentucky within 4-3.

Arkansas put another hit over the fence for a solo shot to move ahead by two runs in the bottom of the fourth, 5-3.

UK climbed back within one in the top of the fifth frame with a run. Cervantes led off with a double that split the right-center gap and then moved ahead a base when DeMartine recorded an infield single. Cervantes stole home on a double-steal effort to make the score 5-4.

The home team plated three runs over the course of the fifth and sixth innings to take a comfortable 8-4 advantage.

Cervantes knocked her second home run of the day with a two-out solo shot in the top of the seventh for the final 8-5 margin.

Junior pitcher Amber Matousek takes the loss on the mound for UK to fall to 6-2 on the year after going the distance and registering four strikeouts.

The two squads will meet to decide the series Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Live stats are available at UK's Official Homepage. Additionally, a complete recap of the game will be available at UKathletics.com.