Offense Erupts as UK Advances With 7-0 Win
May 15, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Kentucky softball team's offense erupted for seven runs on10 hits as they rolled to shutout 7-0 victory over Canisius making history in the process Friday afternoon at New Buckeye Field. Kentucky's win over the Golden Griffs gives head coach Rachel Lawson and the Wildcats their first ever win in the NCAA Tournament. The reward for the victory will be to take on Brigham Young in approximately 30 minutes to advance to the Championship game Saturday.
Kentucky (33-22) picked up the win behind a stellar pitching performance from freshman Rachel Riley and one of the best offensive outputs of the season. Junior Molly Johnson had two hits, two runs and an RBI while sophomore Samantha DeMartine added a two-run home run in the win.
Riley tossed a complete-game effort, allowing just five hits while picking up her first career NCAA victory.
UK will face BYU for a chance to play the host Ohio State Buckeyes in Saturday's Championship series. The Cougars defeated the Blue and White in Thursday's opening game by a 6-2 margin.
The Wildcats wasted little time offensively in the second game of the NCAA Tournament as they jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Johnson opened the game with a single up the gut of the infield to get a runner on base. Junior Natalie Smith advanced Johnson with a perfect sacrifice bunt. An illegal pitch from Canisius' Mallory Aldred allowed the speedy shortstop to move to third. A wild pitch from Aldred gave Johnson enough room to come home and give the Wildcats an early advantage.
Riley retired the side in the home half of the first inning. The leadoff batter grounded out to Johnson at shortstop and then Riley took care of the rest. She sat down Rachelle Barrientos on strikes and then forced a pop-up back to the mound off the bat of Lizzy Gatto.
The bottom of UK's order ignited another good inning for the Blue and White as they extended its lead to 4-0 in the second all with two outs on the scoreboard. The rally began when sophomore Annie Rowlands was plucked by a pitch to earn a base. Junior Destinee Mordecai had an infield bloop single as she lofted one just over the pitcher's extended glove to put two runners on base. Johnson walked to load the bases setting the stage for Smith. The junior second baseman delivered a two-run single when she laced it up the middle. Sophomore Megan Yocke added an RBI single into left field to score Johnson for the 4-0 Wildcat lead.
UK's defense was outstanding in the bottom of the stanza once again not allowing a base runner. Riley forced three straight batters into groundouts.
DeMartine added to UK's lead with a two-run home run over the left-center wall to extend the score to 6-0 in the third inning. Riley got on base when she earned a base on balls with just a single out. Pinch runner Jennifer Young took her spot at first and was not there for very long as DeMartine drilled her fourth bomb of the season.
Kentucky's defense was once again magnificent in the bottom of the third. Riley forced three more groundouts to keep the Golden Griffs off of the base paths.
Canisius retired the Wildcats in order in the top of the fourth. It was the first inning UK failed to have a base runner in the game.
Despite a pair of singles in the bottom of the inning by the Griffs, Riley did not allow a run to cross home. The calm right-hander forced two groundouts and a pop-up to end the threat.
The Blue and White had a chance to add to its lead in the visitors' side of the fifth. Freshman Brittany Cervantes led off with a free pass on a walk. Sophomore Meagan Aull then laid down a masterful bunt along the first base line and the impressive base-running by UK's leading base runner earned her a single when she reached safely. Both runners shifted over a bag when Riley grounded out to the second baseman. However, UK's next two batters dropped in order preventing the Wildcats from scoring.
Riley yielded a single into shallow left field to Emily Helbig, but the Griffs would not get any further than first base as the freshman hurler shut down Canisius' offense the rest of the way.
Kentucky posted another run in the sixth, but could have added even more. Mordecai opened the frame with a leadoff walk. Johnson immediately drove her home with her second single of the game. Smith once again mastered a lay-down bunt, except this time she was able to advance to first when the ball died about four feet in front of the plate. Yocke then drew the second walk of the inning to load the bases. UK could not add to its lead as two batters fouled out to the catcher and another popped up to the pitcher with the score at 7-0.
The Wildcats defense buckled down and returned to its earlier inning ways with three straight outs. Riley forced a pop-up to Johnson at shortstop and then back-to-back groundouts to keep the Griffs off the base paths.
UK got a pair of base runners on in the top of the seventh. Freshman Kristen O'Haver earned her first post-season hit when she singled into right field with two outs. Johnson then reached base when Canisius' shortstop mishandled a ball allowing her to get on base. The inning ended, however, on a fly out to center field.
Canisius earned a two-out single in a last ditch comeback effort, but Riley quickly dispelled of any threat to close the door and make history.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information about the UK softball team.