Bell Sets Season Strikeout Record in UK Sweep

March 24, 2009

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Freshman pitcher Chanda Bell has dominated hitters all season long, and 28 games into her first season the right-hander has set the single season school record for strikeouts. Bell fanned 23 batters in today's sweep of Kent State at the UK Softball Complex to break the 10-year UK record. Kentucky took game one by the score of 3-1, and needed nine innings to earn a 5-4 decision in game two.

Bell's pitching effort propelled UK to another pair of victories to improve its record to 20-8 overall on the year. Kent State drops to 7-13.

Kentucky's freshman ace needed just 111.1 innings to strike out 168 batters, breaking Keary Camunas' record of 164 set in 1999. This marks the second school record she has broken in her freshman campaign, as she also holds the single-game record of 15 strikeouts--which she has achieved on three occasions.

"It's pretty cool to have that record only half way through the season," Bell said. "I just hope I can get some more. I never imagined I'd come to Kentucky and break records, especially not my freshman year."

She tossed a combined 12 innings and picked up both wins for the Blue and White to improve to 14-3 overall on the season.

"Chanda is a hard worker and she does a great job of attacking hitters," said UK head coach Rachel Lawson. "I am not surprised at all that she has produced strikeouts the way she has this early into her career."

The Wildcats earned the win in the second game in dramatic fashion going nine innings with the Golden Flashes. Back-to-back clutch hits from the junior class of Destinee Mordecai and Molly Johnson guided the Wildcats to the sweep.

In the bottom of the ninth, Mordecai led off with a double down the left field line and five pitches later Johnson split the left side to bring Mordecai home giving UK the 5-4 victory.

Johnson provided more heroics earlier in the game when Kentucky found themselves down 4-3 in the fifth. The Wildcats' leadoff batter blasted a solo home run over the center field wall for her fifth home run in the last 11 games to tie the score at four, which would eventually be the difference maker for the extra inning contest.

In addition to Johnson's clutch-batting, sophomore Meagan Aull enjoyed an outstanding day at the plate going 4-for-7 with a double and an RBI.

Also included in the mix of quality performances was junior pitcher Amber Matousek who worked four innings and struck out four batters. That total gives her 200 strikeouts for her career.

"I thought both Amber and Chanda had two really good performances on the mound," Lawson said. "They really helped keep the score down and in turn our offense did a good job of generating runs."

Kent State struck first in the second game with a two-run home run in the top of the first inning, but UK rallied back for a run of its own in the first stanza. Aull singled into right-center and after swiping second she would come home on an errant thrown by Kent State's first baseman. After one, the score was 2-1 in favor of the visitors.

UK plated a pair of runs to grab the lead in the fourth behind a string of three straight hits. Sophomore Samantha DeMartine produced a two-out single to get the rally started. Then sophomore Annie Rowlands and freshman Rachel Riley produced consecutive RBI doubles for the 3-2 advantage.

The Golden Flashes fired back quickly to reclaim the lead with a two-run home run in the top half of the fifth, setting the stage for Johnson's first heroic at-bat when she tied the score with a home run of her own. The two squads would combine for three scoreless innings before Mordecai and Johnson gave the Blue and White their 20th victory of the season.

In game one, Kentucky produced a three-run fifth inning that would prove to be the difference maker coming away with a 3-1 victory.

Rowlands began the fifth with a leadoff walk and she would move ahead a bag on Riley's sacrifice bunt. Mordecai also earned a walk and then the two base runners displayed a bit of aggressiveness with a double-steal effort placing both runners in scoring position. Johnson sent a well driven ball to the shortstop that she mishandled allowing Rowlands to score and Johnson to earn a base. That's when Aull doubled into left-center to bring home Mordecai. Johnson rounded home on sophomore Megan Yocke's infield single.

The Golden Flashes placed a run on the board in the top half of the seventh for the final margin of 3-1, but their comeback effort would fall short when Bell closed the door on back-to-back strikeouts.

Kentucky will take a day off before returning to action again on Thursday. UK travels to in-state opponent Western Kentucky for a two-game affair beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Follow along all season long with the Kentucky Wildcats at UK's official homepage