#23 Auburn Outlasts #16 Kentucky in Opener
May 6, 2011
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The 23rd-ranked Auburn Tigers outlasted the 16th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats 5-3 in a back-and-forth battle in the opening game of the three-game series at the UK Softball Complex Friday night. The visiting Tigers plated a pair of runs in the top of the eighth and UK's rally in the bottom of the stanza fell just short.
Kentucky falls to 35-12 on the season and 13-8 in Southeastern Conference action. Auburn improves to 37-15 and 14-12 in league play.
After Elizabeth Eisterholds' two-run homer in the top of the eighth, the Blue and White had a terrific opportunity to tie the score or capture the win in the home half of the eighth.
Pinch hitter Ellen Weaver opened the stanza with a single up the middle and senior Megan Yocke drew a walk to place two aboard with no outs. UK suffered a strikeout for the first out of the frame before a grounder to second placed runners on the corners and two outs. A foul-out to third base ended the game with two runners stranded.
Junior pitcher Rachel Riley takes the loss on the mound working all 8.0 innings of play and yielding four earned runs. She walked three and struck out two to fall to 11-5 on the year.
Riley provided an offensive spark for UK with her career-high eighth home run of the season in the fourth frame. This marks just the second extra-inning loss of the season for UK who now own a 4-2 mark in games needing extra stanzas to determine. It is also just the second time this year the Wildcats have dropped a game when homering in the contest. Kentucky is 29-2 when going yard at least once in the game.
Auburn jumped out to an early 1-0 edge in the opening inning. The visitor's plated a run behind back-to-back hits including a one-out double for the first strike of the game.
The Tigers increased their advantage to 2-0 in the third inning. A leadoff single came around to score on a poor throw from the UK defense for the unearned score.
UK's offense found its rhythm in the fourth frame. Sophomore Kara Dill recorded Kentucky's first hit of the game with a ball through the left-side gap. A fly-out to deep left field enabled the speedy Dill to shift to second on a tag-up. A single into center field by junior Brittany Cervantes plated Dill from second for the inning's first tally. Riley then wasted little time in giving UK a 3-2 edge with a bomb over the left-center wall.
Auburn knotted the score in the top of the fifth to make the score 3-3. The Tigers had a pair of singles in the inning for enough offense to tie the score.
UK's defense was instrumental in forcing extra innings in the seventh with a beautiful double play. After allowing a leadoff walk, the Tigers attempted to push the runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt but the batter popped up to senior Samantha DeMartine along the first base line. DeMartine quickly turned and flicked the ball to a charging Emily Jolly at first for the second out of the inning. Riley would force a grounder to Jolly to cap off the impressive defensive showing.
The squads will return to action for a 1 p.m. ET tilt on Saturday. The final game of the series is set for a 1 p.m. ET start on Sunday. That game will also mark Senior Day festivities for UK's four-member senior class of Meagan Aull, DeMartine, Annie Rowlands and Yocke.
Complete coverage of the UK softball team can be found at UKathletics.com all season long.