Riley, Defense Lead Kentucky to Series Win
April 2, 2010
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Behind a gem of a pitching effort from sophomore Rachel Riley and a dazzling defensive effort the Kentucky softball team claimed its second straight series over Mississippi State with a 2-0 win in Starkville, Miss., Friday night. UK has now captured the series over the Bulldogs in two straight seasons for the first time in school history.
Riley was magnificent in the circle working all seven innings and allowing just two base runners on meaningless singles in picking up her eighth win of the year. Kentucky improves to 22-14 overall and 7-8 in Southeastern Conference action.
Mississippi State drops to 20-18 overall and 2-9 in conference action. Senior Molly Johnson led a flawless defensive effort by the Wildcats as she recorded seven assists. Riley added five from the pitching circle.
Megan Yocke led the bats with a 1-for-2 performance and plating both runs in the victory.
Much like the opening game of the series the Wildcats struck first with a run in the top half of the first. Johnson earned a lead-off walk to put a runner on base. The shortstop then swiped her 14th base of the season enabling Natalie Smith to execute a sacrifice bunt to place the runner on third. Yocke plated the run with a deep sacrifice fly into center field allowing Johnson to touch home for an early 1-0 lead for UK.
Johnson helped keep the Bulldogs off the base paths with a spectacular back-handed snag just beyond the second base bag. The senior then sent a sizzling throw to first to get the runner preventing Mississippi State from getting on base in the bottom of the second.
Annie Rowlands was awarded a base in the top of the third when she was drilled in the back with a pitch to lead off the inning. Johnson advanced the runner into scoring position with a masterful sacrifice bunt. After a foul-out, Megan Yocke was plucked with a pitch to place the second runner on base after the second batter in the frame was smacked with an offering. The inning ended with a strikeout and runners aboard.
Riley walked with an out on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. Destinee Mordecai then earned the first single of the game with a base hit into left field placing two runners on the base paths. Kara Dill shifted the runners with a groundout to first base but the inning would conclude on a strikeout leaving two more runners on base.
After two impressive plays by Johnson at shortstop, Mississippi State earned its first hit of the game with a single through the right side. The inning quickly ended on the very next pitch however, when the Bulldogs sent a grounder to Smith at second and she underhanded the ball to Johnson who calmly tapped the second base bag to end the threat preserving the 1-0 UK lead.
After a lead off out, Smith sent a blooper into shallow right field but the Bulldogs' fielder muffed the catch allowing Smith to reach second and place a runner on base in the top of the fifth. Yocke then delivered her second RBI of the game with a single that laced the left field line and Smith quickly came home safely. Brittany Cervantes singled into shallow right field but was caught in a run down when she thought Yocke was making a run for home. The inning ended leaving Yocke aboard with a foul out to the first baseman, but not without UK taking a 2-0 advantage.
Mordecai walked with an out on the board in the top of the sixth and then Dill was able to reach base with a slow roller along the first base line. The Bulldogs' first baseman missed the tag on UK's speedy third baseman, but then the play became wild. With the first baseman on the ground Mordecai headed for third base and the throw was late. Dill took the opportunity to shift to second during Mordecai's trot to third. Mississippi State opted to make the throw to second in attempt to get Dill and Mordecai took off for home plate. The home team was able to make the throw in time to tag Mordecai out at home preventing UK from adding to its lead.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Mississippi State's Kalli Smith singled up the middle for just the second hit and second base runner allowed in the game. Riley was able to claim her second strikeout of the game during the very next at-bat to capture her eighth win of the season.
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.