Kentucky Bats Power Past MSU in a Sweep
April 24, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind four home runs, including a grand slam from freshman Rachel Riley, the Kentucky softball team cruised to a doubleheader sweep of visiting Mississippi State Friday afternoon. UK captured a 10-3 win in game one and a 4-1 victory in game two.
Kentucky improves to 28-18 overall and 10-13 in SEC play with the two wins. Mississippi State falls to 24-25 overall and 6-18 in the conference.
The Blue and White smacked a season-high three home runs in the first game as they racked up 10 runs off of 10 hits. Riley blasted her second home run of the season with the bases loaded for the third grand slam of the season for Head Coach Rachel Lawson's club. Junior Molly Johnson and freshman Brittany Cervantes each added a round tripper to stay knotted for the team lead with eight home runs on the season. Sophomore Samantha DeMartine struck for a solo shot in the second game for the fourth home run of the day.
In addition to the bombs, Johnson broke UK's single-season run record with four runs scored on the day to move her season total to 45. Freshman pitcher Chanda Bell also returned to the mound and pitched a complete game effort getting her 17th win of the season in game two. With four strikeouts in the game she has now tossed over 200 on the season.
"I'm very proud of the consistency of the team today," said Lawson. "We knew what we had to do, and we played like we've played all season long. It's a great sign of the maturity of this team."
UK is on the cusp of clinching a berth in the SEC tournament with just four conference games remaining. The two victories today help Kentucky's cause immensely as they are just one SEC win shy of capturing a berth into the tournament for just the third time in school history. The last time Kentucky appeared in the conference tournament was 2001.
Mississippi State jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning in game one behind three hits and an error by the Wildcats.
Kentucky wasted little time in responding to the only deficit they would face all day as they turned around and plated a pair of scores of their own in the bottom half of the stanza. Sophomore Megan Yocke singled up the middle with two outs to get a base runner to first. Cervantes then made up for her error in the top half of the inning by smacking her eighth homer of the season over the left field fence.
A huge fourth inning would give Kentucky the lead for good. Yocke opened the inning with a no-out walk. Cervantes followed with a single into right center and would move to second as the Bulldogs unsuccessfully attempted to get Yocke out at third. Junior Natalie Smith then took the second walk of the inning setting the stage for Riley. For the second straight game the starting pitcher blasted a home run that dipped just over the left field fence for the grand slam effort.
Kentucky wasn't done yet though. Following Riley's blast, sophomore Annie Rowlands earned an extra base hit of her own when she doubled down the left field line. Johnson would bring her home on her home run over the left field fence for the fifth and sixth runs of the inning and an 8-2 edge.
After Mississippi State added a run in the fifth, Kentucky would plate two scores in the sixth to make the final 10-3 margin. Rowlands got things going with a one-out single into center field. Johnson would notch her third RBI of the game when she doubled into right-center. Yocke would bring Johnson home on a single through the left side.
Riley is credited with her third win of the season as she went the distance and struck out two. She has now earned back-to-back wins in the circle in addition to hitting a homer in back-to-back outings.
In game two, Kentucky scored in the bottom half of the first inning to grab a lead they would never relinquish. Johnson led off by reaching base after she was struck by a pitch. Aull reached on an errant play by the Bulldogs' third baseman and Yocke followed with a sacrifice bunt to push the runners into scoring position. Mississippi State's pitcher Kelsey Nurnberg skied a pitch into the back net allowing the speedy Johnson to tap home for the 1-0 advantage.
Kentucky added a run in the third when Johnson scored for the second time in the game. She tripled into left center to lead off the inning. Yocke was credited with the RBI when she brought her home on a single into left field.
DeMartine tallied her third home run of the season with a solo shot in the fifth for a 3-0 UK lead. Kentucky added another run in the sixth when DeMartine singled along the left field line with two outs. She would come home when MSU's Kalli Smith mishandled a routine fly off of Rowlands' bat.
The Bulldogs scored off of a home run in the top of the seventh, but it was too little too late for the visitors.
Yocke had a spectacular day at the plate going a combined 4-for-4 for the day with a pair of RBI. All three of Johnson's hits today went for extra bases as she tallied a home run, a triple and a double in the two games.
Kentucky and Mississippi State will wrap up the series with a game beginning at Noon ET Saturday at the UK Softball Complex. Prior to the game UK will honor its lone senior in Katie McCarty.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information about the UK softball team.