No. 2 Michigan Robs Wildcats of Upset

April 30, 2010

Box Score

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A five-run sixth inning ignited by a controversial play at home that went in the home team’s favor enabled the second-ranked Michigan softball team to rally from a 4-0 deficit to defeat Kentucky, 5-4, in the opening game of a non-conference two-game series in Ann Arbor, Mich. UK took a 4-0 advantage through five and a half innings and had the home team on its heels, but the second-ranked squad in the nation survived a scare on its home turf behind the five run stanza.

Kentucky drops to 29-22 overall while the second-ranked Michigan squad improves to 39-6 overall. Sophomore Chanda Bell struck out eight Wolverine batters, but falls in six innings.

Sophomore Brittany Cervantes delivered a 1-for-3 performance which included a two-run double to give the Wildcats an advantage in the visitors half of the sixth.

Michigan scored in the home half of the sixth on one of the strangest plays one will ever see. The Wolverines’ leadoff batter tripled into the right-center gap. An erroneous throw to third gave Michigan’s runner a chance to go home, although UK was able to toss her out at home the umpires ruled the runner was obstructed at third base preventing the runner from getting up to run cleanly. The umpires counted the run to bring Michigan to within 4-1.

After a strikeout, Michigan put a runner on base with a double and then the very next batter hit a home run over the left field fence to make the score 4-3. The inning continued to rally as the next two batters reached on a full-count wall and a hit by pitch. The Wolverines took the lead with a two-run double into right center for a 5-4 advantage. UK got out of the inning with Bell’s eighth strikeout of the game and a groundout to Molly Johnson at shortstop.

Trailing by a run heading into the visitor’s side of the seventh, Annie Rowlands led off the stanza and was able to reach when she was plucked with a pitch. In a sacrifice bunt attempt, the Wolverines were able to get the lead runner and Kara Dill reached on a fielder’s choice. The inning concluded with the Wildcats leaving a runner stranded on consecutive strikeouts.

UK struck first with a run in the visitor’s side of the third. Dill reached base with a bouncing single to the second baseman. The speedy freshman was able to beat out the throw to get a runner on base with just one out. Dill then swiped her seventh base of the season to place a runner in scoring position. Johnson smacked a single through the left side to place runners on the corners. UK’s top base stealer then moved to second with her 19th stolen base of the year to place two runners in scoring position. Natalie Smith’s ground out to the shortstop gave Dill enough time to slide safely home for the 1-0 advantage.

Kentucky added to its lead with a three runs in the top of the sixth stanza. Johnson opened the top of the sixth by capturing her second hit of the game when she sent a chopper to the shortstop and beat out the throw. After a strikeout, Megan Yocke sliced a single through the left side to place two runners aboard in the frame. With two outs, Brittany Cervantes delivered a two-run double into right-center field to give the Wildcats a 3-0 advantage. It marked the 17th extra base hit and eighth double of the season for the sophomore. Meagan Aull sent a looping single over the third baseman’s head and into shallow left field. With two outs Cervantes was running the whole way and Aull tacked on an RBI making the score 4-0.

The two squads will complete the series Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET. The game was originally scheduled for a 2 p.m. ET start, but President Obama is speaking at the Michigan commencement ceremony pushing the first pitch back two hours.

Complete coverage of the Wildcat softball team can be found at UKathletics.com.