Riley's Bases-Clearing Double Propels UK to Series Upset
April 29, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Senior Rachel Riley's bases-clearing double led a four-run sixth inning to guide the Kentucky softball team to a series-clinching 5-1 victory at No. 2 Florida on Sunday afternoon. The Wildcats have now captured series wins over the Gators in each of the past two seasons. The series loss to the Wildcats is the first of the season for Florida, and the four-run victory is the largest by a Gator opponent in 2012.
Kentucky's offense came through with the four-spot in the sixth, but again senior pitcher Chanda Bell proved to be the difference for the Wildcats. She held the Gators to just one run in 14 innings of work in two victories in the series. In today's win she struck out 13 batters, the most strikeouts she has tossed in a Southeastern Conference series this season.
With the win the Wildcats improve to 26-27 overall and 12-13 in SEC action. UK has now secured a spot in the SEC Tournament for a record-breaking fourth consecutive season. Florida falls to 43-8 overall and 20-5 in league action.
Riley led a bevy of Wildcat hitters who had success against both of Florida's pitchers in today's contest. The senior was 1-for-2 with the three-run double. She also walked twice. Junior Alice O'Brien went 3-for-3 and scored twice. Junior Kara Dill logged a 2-for-3 day with an RBI, a run scored and a walk, while senior Brittany Cervantes went 1-for-3 with a sixth-inning RBI.
UK scratched the scoreboard in the top half of the third to grab the early advantage. O'Brien singled up the middle with one out to jump-start the inning. She'd shift into scoring position on a passed ball by the Gators' catcher. Cervantes then sent a chopper to first that nicked the first baseman's glove placing runners on the corners. Dill delivered an RBI single into center field for the 1-0 Wildcat advantage.
Florida rallied for a score in the home half of the fifth to even the game at one apiece. The Gators loaded the bases with a pair of infield singles and a hit batter with nobody out. A sacrifice fly from Lauren Haeger plated the score. Bell escaped further damage by picking up her 10th strikeout of the game and induced an inning-ending pop-up to short.
Kentucky responded immediately with a four-run sixth inning to recapture the lead and go ahead 5-1. Sophomore Lauren Cumbess logged a four-pitch one-out walk to begin the rally. After the second out of the frame, O'Brien picked up her third hit of the game when she found a gap in right-center to place runners on the corners. Cervantes then delivered an RBI single that dipped just over the second baseman's head for the inning's first score. Dill then notched the second walk of the inning to load the bases to set the stage for Riley. The senior laced a bases-clearing double along the left field line placing the Gators into their largest deficit of the season.
After the Wildcats fell in order in the top half of the first, Florida notched a leadoff walk. Bell, however, was unfazed and struck out the next three batters she faced.
Freshman Griffin Joiner sliced a bloop single into shallow right field to begin the second stanza. Sophomore Ginny Carroll was able to execute a sacrifice bunt to shift the runner into scoring position, but consecutive groundouts to short ended the threat for the visitors.
Florida opened the bottom of the second by notching a leadoff double and then a left field single to threaten early. Bell again came up with clutch pitching and struck out the next threat batters she faced to escape the jam unscathed.
For the third consecutive inning the Gators placed the lead runner aboard thanks to an infield bunt single. However, UK responded in similar fashion by recording outs in the next three at-bats to quell the threat.
Sophomore Emily Jolly singled into left to leadoff the fourth and Cumbess shifted the runner into scoring position with another well-executed sacrifice. Following a strikeout, O'Brien notched her second hit up the middle of the afternoon to place runners on the corners. The inning would end with a groundout to second without the Wildcats converting to add to the lead.
After yielding a one-out double, Bell struck out the final two batters in the fourth. It marked the third time in four innings Bell had logged all three outs by way of a strikeout.
Dill drove a ball into shallow left field to begin the fifth and Riley earned her second walk of the game. UK would suffer a double-play and a foul-out to end the inning without rallying for a score.
In the bottom of the sixth the Gators were able to produce a two-out single into left center, but Bell wasted little time escaping the frame by notching her 12th strikeout of the contest.
Bell completed the win with three straight outs in the home half of the seventh. She notched a pair of fly-outs and her 13th strikeout of the game in the winning effort.
Kentucky will return to action with a three-game series to complete its regular season at home next weekend. UK welcomes LSU to Lexington beginning with a 6 p.m. ET first pitch on Friday, May 4.
For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK softball season, log on to UKathletics.com.