UK Edges Mississippi State in Opening Game
April 2, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. - A balanced offense helped Kentucky edge Mississippi State 5-4 in the opening game of the three-game series in Starkville, Miss., Friday afternoon. The Wildcats charted five runs on nine hits including four extra base hits. Junior Annie Rowlands smacked her second home run of the season in the fourth inning to lead the bats.
Kentucky improves to 21-14 overall and 6-8 in Southeastern Conference action. Mississippi State drops to 20-17 overall and 2-8 in league action.
Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell went the distance and picked up her 12th victory of the season in the circle. Bell tossed 10 strikeouts - her 13th game of the season with at least 10 strikeouts. Bell allowed just three earned runs against a potent offensive unit in the home team Bulldogs.
Brittany Cervantes recorded the first hit of the game with a lead-off double when she sliced a ball into the right-center gap to begin the second inning. Meagan Aull executed a perfect sacrifice bunt as she shifted Cervantes to third with just one out in the inning. During the very next at-bat Rachel Riley brought in the run with a single through the left side to take the early 1-0 advantage. Pinch runner Jennifer Young moved to second with two outs on a wild pitch and Kara Dill plated the run when she was able to squeak a ball through the left side giving the visitor's an early 2-0 lead.
Natalie Smith charted a one-out triple into the left-center hole to place a runner in scoring position in the top of the third. It marked her third three-bagger of the season and the ninth of her career. With two outs, Cervantes earned a walk to put runners on the corners. Aull then drilled a double down the right-field line on the first pitch she saw to plate Smith and adding a run to the Wildcats' total and making the score 3-0.
Rowlands sent a rocket over the centerfield fence for her second home run of the season in the top of the fourth. Rowlands' homer came with two outs on the scoreboard to help increase UK's advantage to 4-0. The round tripper was the fifth of the junior's career. Molly Johnson kept the inning alive with her first hit of the game with a single through the left side. The speedy shortstop then swiped second and moved to third when Mississippi State's Chelsea Bramlett misfired and threw the ball into right-center. Johnson's stolen base was the 13th of the season. The inning ended with Johnson still standing on third as the next out came on a grounder to the first baseman with UK leading 4-0.
Megan Yocke started the fifth inning with a single up the middle of the infield to quickly put a runner on base for the Wildcats. However, the inning would end with Yocke stranded on first with three quick pop-outs and UK still ahead 4-0.
Mississippi State registered its first hit of the game with a single along the left field line in the bottom of the fifth inning. Bell quickly dispersed of the threat with her eighth and ninth strikeouts of the game.
Dill captured a walk with an out in the visitor's side of the sixth. The freshman claimed the bag on four straight pitches. Johnson then drilled a double up the middle and Dill rounded all the way from first for the fifth run of the game. Johnson was able to shift to third when the throw from the outfield went array. The inning ended with Johnson on third with a ground out to short and the score 5-0 in favor of the Blue and White.
The Bulldogs roared back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth on five consecutive hits and an error by the Wildcats to make the score 5-4 in favor of the visitors.
In the bottom of the seventh, Mississippi State claimed a one-out walk to place the tying run on base. Bell tossed her 10th strikeout of the game to earn the second out of the inning. The Bulldogs' All-American Bramlett earned a walk on a 3-2 count to place two runners on the base paths, but the inning would end on the very next pitch as Bell forced a pop-up to Johnson at shortstop.
After the second game of the doubleheader this evening the teams will resume action tomorrow for a single outing to complete the series. First pitch is slated to begin at 2 p.m. ET.
For the most up-to-date information on the UK softball team please visit UKathletics.com.