No. 6 Alabama Steals Two from Wildcats
April 14, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Kentucky softball team dropped both games of a doubleheader, including a one-run game in the first of the series, to No. 6 Alabama on a brisk night in Tuscaloosa Tuesday night. Alabama escaped with a 2-1 win in the first game behind a costly UK error, while the Tide went on for a 5-3 victory in the second contest.
The Blue and White falls to 25-18 and 8-13 in the Southeastern Conference, while Alabama improves to 35-8 and 13-6 in conference action. Sophomore Megan Yocke led the offense for UK with four hits on the day including a home run and a double. Kentucky has now faced five ranked opponents in its last six series. Including today's 2-1 loss, UK has dropped two games by just one run against top-10 opponents in its last three games. Kentucky fell 1-0 in nine innings in the first game of a doubleheader to No. 1 Florida on Saturday.
The Kentucky offense opened the second game of the doubleheader hot as it registered three hits and two runs to take an early 2-0 jump.
Junior Molly Johnson drew a leadoff walk to get on base. Sophomore Megan Yocke doubled down the left field line to place both runners in scoring position. Freshman Brittany Cervantes brought Johnson home with a single in shallow center field, and then Smith brought home Yocke when she slipped a single through the right side for UK's two runs.
Alabama pulled to within one run in the bottom half of the frame when pitcher Charlotte Morgan drove in a run on a single through the right side to make the score 2-1.
The Wildcats had a chance to increase their lead in the second, but left a runner stranded. Junior Destinee Mordecai reached on a one-out error by the first baseman when she sent a chopper to third base. Johnson smacked a shot into deep right-center and Brittany Rogers made a running grab about a foot in front of the wall.
Alabama tied the score at two a piece in the bottom of the second stanza behind an RBI double from Ashley Holcombe. The Crimson Tide would go on to load the bases, but pitcher Amber Matousek forced the Tide into a third-out groundout to Johnson at short to end the threat.
Yocke led off the third with her second base hit of the game when she laced it down the left field line. Cervantes reached on a fielder's choice when Alabama chose to get the lead runner out at second. Smith then singled up the middle for her second hit of the game with just one out. However, an amazing double-play by Alabama's Kelley Montalvo ended UK's scoring threat. Montalvo, the third baseman, took a chopper and tagged third before tossing it to first and getting the runner.
The back and forth contest continued when Alabama posted a run in the bottom of the third. Morgan and Montalvo hit back-to-back doubles to give the home team a 3-2 advantage. Matousek did not allow any further damage as she struck out two batters and got the third to foul out to DeMartine.
Whitney Larsen increased the home team's advantage by two runs with a solo home run in the fourth and then Alabama added another run in fifth to make the score 5-2.
Kentucky had a chance game in the sixth but could not manufacture a run despite putting three runners on base behind an Alabama error and back-to-back singles from DeMartine and Rachel Riley.
UK continued to get an offensive spark from Yocke with two outs and trailing by three runs. The catcher drilled her fifth home run of the season over the left-center wall to make the final margin 5-3.
Alabama won the first game by a 2-1 margin, behind a no-hitter from pitcher Kelsi Dunne. Freshman right-hander Riley turned in another spectacular performance on the mound for Kentucky. Riley went six innings and yielded just one earned run--only her second in 15 consecutive innings of work.
It took five scoreless innings before a team tallied a run--and UK took advantage of two Alabama miscues to take a 1-0 advantage in the top of the sixth. Johnson fended off 12 pitches before drawing a one-out walk and place a runner on base. Sophomore Meagan Aull sent a blooper just over the head of the third base man, but Alabama's shortstop was able to field it and get the lead runner out at second. Yocke then flew one into shallow left field that popped in and out of the left fielder's glove as Aull and Yocke both advanced into scoring position on the play. With both runners taking a step off the bag, Holcombe, the catcher, attempted to pick-off Yocke and sailed the ball into center field allowing the speedy Aull to tap home for the visitor's lead. Cervantes then drove her second deep fly ball into the gap in right-center of the day and Cassandra Reilly-Boccia was able to rob UK of an additional run when she converted a web-gem to end the threat.
The Tide struck back quickly in the bottom of the sixth. After Johnson snatched a single away from Rogers, Alabama got consecutive hits and an RBI double from Lauren Parker to knot the score. Back-to-back walks loaded the bases but, Mordecai's grab around the ankles in right field made it two outs. However, a costly error by the UK defense allowed Alabama to score another run in the frame to capture the 2-1 victory.
The Wildcats began the series with three straight groundouts to open the first and then relied on some stellar defensive play to keep Alabama from scoring in the bottom of the inning. Rogers led off the inning with a bunt single to put a runner on base. The speedy Rogers who has swiped 35 bases this season attempted to take second, but Yocke and Johnson hooked up to get Rogers out at second in the steal attempt. It was just the fifth time this season that Rogers has been caught stealing. Despite another single with two outs from the Tide, Riley got Morgan to line out to Smith at second to end the inning.
Cervantes nearly helped UK strike first in the second when she sent a deep-fly ball to the warning track in right field. However, the Tide's Reilly-Boccia was able to haul in the catch for the long out.
Montalvo doubled into left field to start the bottom half of the stanza, but the Tide was clamped from there by UK's gloves. Riley forced three straight groundouts after the opening hit to get out of the inning unscathed.
Sophomore Annie Rowlands was struck with a pitch for the fifth time in conference play to give UK a base runner with just a single out in the third inning. Mordecai converted a splendid sacrifice bunt to push the runner into scoring position for UK's RBI leader. With a 3-2 count Johnson drilled a ball that looked like it might find the gap in right-center near the warning track however, Reilly-Boccia was once again able to corral in the catch to prevent a Wildcat score.
Riley continued to stifle Alabama's high-octane offense in the third. She got back-to-back groundouts to open the inning before Parker found a hole up the middle. But, Riley was not shaken at all getting Reilly-Boccia to groundout to Cervantes at third to end the inning.
After UK suffered a three-up-three down in the fourth, Kentucky's defense continued to shine. Morgan slipped a ball through the left side to lead off with a base hit, however UK would be marvelous the rest of the way. Montalvo sailed a ball into deep center field sending Aull on the run heading toward the wall. Aull made a dazzling over the shoulder catch look routine and then quickly spun on her heels and tossed it to second to keep pinch-runner Lisa Elizondo from tagging up. Riley then forced Amanda Locke into a groundout to Smith at second, which she swiftly picked up and turned it into an inning-ending double play.
The Blue and White left a runner stranded in the fifth when DeMartine drew a one-out walk, but was unable to advance pinch-runner Macy Allen any further than first base. Kentucky responded by retiring the side to keep the game scoreless.
Kentucky will enjoy a few days off and a break from conference action before returning to the diamond on Sunday for a non-conference doubleheader against UT-Chattanooga. Kentucky hosts the Lady Mocs at the UK Softball Complex with a first pitch set for 1 p.m. ET.