Riley's One-Hitter Not Enough as Florida Squeaks Out a 1-0 Win
April 11, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Freshman pitcher Rachel Riley turned in one of the most impressive pitching performances in Kentucky softball history when she threw a one-hitter in a 1-0 nine-inning loss to the No. 1 Florida Gators Saturday afternoon. Florida took the second game of a doubleheader 6-0 following the extra-inning affair.
Riley had a no-hitter going until the bottom of the ninth inning prior to giving up a single. Florida's Ali Gardner found a gap through the left side with one-out and a runner on base. The Gators' Kelsey Bruder would earn a sacrifice fly for the game's lone and lifting Florida to the 1-0 win.
UK's right-hander becomes the first hurler since former Tennessee All-American Monica Abbott yielded just one hit to Florida on March 10, 2007. The Lady Vols won that contest 4-0 in 10 innings.
Kentucky falls to 25-16 and 8-11 in the SEC with the two losses, while Florida's (42-3, 20-1) incredible season continues.
The Wildcats had their chances for an upset in the wire-to-wire game with the visitors. Kentucky left runners stranded in six of the eight innings--including the seventh and eighth. The Wildcats' five hits against the Gators is the second-highest total given up by senior Stacey Nelson this season.
Kentucky's chances began as early as the second inning when junior Natalie Smith singled to the third baseman with a single out. She would move over to second when Riley punched a single through the left gap. Kentucky would then load the bases when Nelson plucked sophomore Samantha DeMartine with a pitch. However, the 2007 SEC Pitcher of the Year would get out of the jam with back-to-back outs on a strikeout and a groundout to second.
In the fourth, freshman Brittany Cervantes hit her seventh double of the season to lead off for the Blue and White. Smith laid down a masterful sacrifice bunt advancing Cervantes to third, putting the Wildcats in a splendid position. However, Nelson would retire the next two batters on strikes to get out of the inning unscathed.
Junior Destinee Mordecai drew a one-out walk in the fifth, but never moved further than first base when UK went down on back-to-back outs once again.
In the sixth, Smith earned her second hit of the afternoon when she slipped a single through the right side with two outs. The inning ended however, on one of Nelson's 12 strikeouts on the day.
Clearly the best chance of the day came in the bottom of the seventh, when a crowd of nearly 700 fans rose to their feet trying to rally the Blue and White to an improbable upset of the nation's best team. DeMartine started the inning with a single when she lofted a blooper into shallow right field that dropped just inside the right-field line. Sophomore Annie Rowlands advanced pinch-runner Allie Jest into scoring position with a sacrifice lay-down. Mordecai would then draw her second walk in as many at-bats to put two runners on base. Junior Molly Johnson's groundout to the second baseman shifted both runners into prime scoring position. However, Nelson would get sophomore Meagan Aull to groundout to third to once again end the threat.
After keeping Florida off the base paths and without a hit in the eighth, sophomore Megan Yocke sent a well driven chopper to Florida's shortstop and was able to reach base when Megan Bush could not field the play. Cervantes' attempt for a sacrifice bunt went right back to the pitcher and Nelson got the lead runner out at second while Cervantes reached on the fielder's choice. Smith's groundout to Nelson pushed Cervantes ahead a bag, but once again Nelson would come up with a strikeout to preserve her shutout leading to Florida's winning run in the top of the ninth.
UK had five hits in the game, led by Smith's pair. Johnson matched a school-record with nine putouts in the game as Florida grounded out 21 times in the game.
In game two, Florida led from start to finish. Francesca Enea tallied a pair of home runs to become Florida's all-time home run leader to lead the way for the Gators in their 6-0 victory.
UK tallied three hits in the game, two from Johnson and a single from Aull. There was some good news for Wildcat fans as freshman pitcher Chanda Bell returned to the circle after being listed day-to-day for the last week. She entered the game in relief and threw five innings of work, striking out five batters while yielding just two runs. By fanning five batters in today's contest she sits just two strikeouts from breaking the 200 strikeout barrier for the season.
Kentucky has little time to rest before hitting the road for another huge SEC series. Kentucky travels to No. 4 Alabama in Tuscaloosa for a doubleheader Tuesday. Complete coverage of the series with the Crimson Tide will be available at UKathletics.com.