Back-to-Back Seventh Inning Homers Lift UK
April 8, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The first back-to-back home runs of the season for the Kentucky softball team could not have come at a better time. In the seventh inning with UK trailing by two runs, freshman Brittany Cervantes hit a two-run shot and junior Natalie Smith followed with a solo home run to give the Kentucky softball team a come-from-behind 6-5 victory, over No. 12 Tennessee to earn a split with the Volunteers in a conference doubleheader Wednesday afternoon. The Volunteers came away with a 14-2 win in the first game.
"I can't say enough about the desire and grit of this team," said head coach Rachel Lawson. "I'm always confident we can do something special and grind out victories."
With the Blue and White (25-14, 8-9) down by two runs in the bottom of the seventh they once again needed some magic. Sophomore Megan Yocke led off the inning with a clutch single that found a hole in shallow center field to put a base runner on. Cervantes then drilled her second home run of the series over the left field wall to equal the score at five a piece. With no outs on the scoreboard, Smith came to plate and locked in on the second pitch of the at-bat. The junior lofted a solo walk-off home run over the right-field fence for her first round tripper of the season--and her first-ever walk-off home run.
"I wasn't even sure it was going over," Smith said. "This feeling is indescribable. I've never hit a walk-off home run in my entire life. This is amazing."
For the second straight season the Wildcats were able to steal a game from their border state rivals. Last season, UK knocked off the sixth-ranked Volunteers in eight innings for its first SEC win of the season.
In addition to Cervantes' two home runs and Smith's biggest hit of her career, junior Molly Johnson enjoyed a perfect day at the plate in the two games combined to lead the Wildcats at the plate. Johnson was 3-for-3 on the day with two doubles and four walks--two of which were intentional.
Freshman Rachel Riley picks up her first career victory in the pitching circle for Kentucky. The first year player from Bowling Green, Ky., saw her first complete game effort in her career while tossing three strikeouts. By fanning three Lady Vols today she equals a career-high in that category.
Both teams notched a run in the first inning to begin the second game. Johnson led off with a double into center field and would eventually round home on a throwing error by Tennessee's third base man when sophomore Meagan Aull's sacrifice bunt went for an infield single.
Tennessee would go ahead by a score with a tally in the top of the fourth. The visitors would then add two more runs in the top half of the fifth before Kentucky would rally for some offense of its own.
Junior Destinee Mordecai smacked a solo home run over the left-center wall for her career-best third home run of the season. Johnson would then draw a walk to get on base and rounded home to score on Cervantes' sacrifice fly to make the score 4-3 through five innings of play.
The Lady Vols would move ahead by two runs with a run in the top of the seventh, before Kentucky would turn in another picture-perfect ending with the back-to-back round trippers for the victory.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Tennessee plated three scores in the top half of the first on just a single hit. But, Kentucky powered back with two runs of its own to make the score 3-2. Cervantes blasted her first home run of the day for a two-run shot also bringing home Aull when she lofted it over the left field fence.
The game would be delayed 33 minutes in the top of the second as the umpires ruled a play that involved one of the Volunteers' base runners being struck by a hit. After deliberating and making a ruling, Tennessee had the bases loaded with two outs and would go on to score four runs in the inning to take a commanding lead.
They would add four runs in the fourth and three in the fifth to make the final margin, 14-2 and capture the first win of the day.
Kentucky returns to action Friday with a doubleheader against No. 1 Florida. UK and the Gators will meet for two games Friday afternoon beginning at 4 p.m. ET. Game one will be broadcast live on Cox Sports as the first-ever live television broadcast from the UK Softball Complex. Game two will begin approximately 20 minutes following the conclusion of the first game.
The squads will meet for a final game on Saturday with a noon ET start. Fans can find live stats and complete coverage of the series with the Gators on UKathletics.com.