Wildcats Surge to 8-0 NCAA Opening Win Over Notre Dame
May 20, 2011
ANN ARBOR Mich. - The 21st-ranked Kentucky softball team benefited from a pair of two-run homers from junior Brittany Cervantes and senior Megan Yocke while riding the right-arm of junior ace Chanda Bell to an 8-0 NCAA opening victory over No. 20 Notre Dame, Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The victory came in a five-inning shortened game as UK set a new standard for victories in a season with 37.
Kentucky (37-14) will now advance to the winner's portion of the Ann Arbor Regional. UK will take on the winner of the Michigan/Western Michigan contest at Noon ET on ESPN Saturday.
"I'm shocked, actually (of the win)," UK coach Rachel Lawson said. "I think Notre Dame is a tremendous team and they have great pitching, great coaching and they have a great offense. They've done a great job all year. I expect them to have a different outing tomorrow. I just think we were excited to finally get out of SEC play and play another team."
The Wildcat offense exploded for 11 hits and eight runs to overwhelm the Irish who managed just two hits and four total base runners in the contest. The senior class of Yocke, Meagan Aull, Samantha DeMartine and Annie Rowlands all contributed clutch hits to lead the way.
Yocke was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs thanks to her 11th homer of the season. Aull charted a 1-for-3 outing with a run scored. DeMartine totaled a 2-for-3 day with a double and a two-run single in the first. Rowlands was 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.
Cervantes matched the UK program record with her 35th career long ball in the third frame. She has now run her season-high total to 15 on the season and ranks second in a single-season at Kentucky with 51 RBI on the year.
"We were just swinging at a certain type of pitch," Lawson said. "We were pretty lucky in that it seemed to be there and our hitters really capitalized on it. I thought they did a good job of attacking the pitch they wanted to hit when it came."
Bell was tremendous in the circle tossing her seventh shutout of the season in a two-hit performance. She improves to 14-6 on the season with the victory.
Kentucky's offense got off to a great start to open the game with a pair of tallies in the top of the first. Sophomore Kara Dill began the charge with a one-out double into center. She has now come through with a hit in 43 of UK's 51 games on the season.
Aull then drilled a ball through the left side gap and raced to second during an attempted throw to home to catch Dill. However, UK's base runners stayed put, remaining in scoring position. A foul pop-up posted two outs on the scoreboard and Cervantes was awarded first base on a four-pitch walk. DeMartine delivered a two-out single into left field to plate the speedy Dill and Aull for UK's 2-0 edge. UK now improves to 31-2 on the season when plating a run first in the contest.
Notre Dame was able to draw a two-out walk for its first base runner of the game, but Bell quickly dispersed of the threat by forcing the final out of the inning with a slow roller back to Dill at short in the bottom of the second.
Junior Rachel Riley's inning-opening single into left field began a three-run stanza for the Blue and White as they grabbed a 5-0 edge in the third. Cervantes' smoked a two-run homer over the left field fence to bring in the stanza's first scores.
DeMartine kept the bats alive with a double that laced into right-center. She would scoot to third on a single up the middle by sophomore Alice O'Brien. Rowlands' sent a chopper back to short which was enough for DeMartine to shift home for the third run of the inning for the designated visitors.
Notre Dame recorded its first hit of the game on a bloop play in the bottom of the third. Bell allowed just her second base runner with a hit by pitch, but then picked up a quick out. A bunt along the left field line was fielded cleanly and then tossed to DeMartine at first. The runner and UK's first baseman had contact and the ball fell out of DeMartine's glove allowing both runners to shift into scoring position. Bell, however, was not fazed as she forced two more quick outs to escape the jam unscathed.
UK tacked on an additional run in the top of the fifth to stretch the score to 6-0 in favor of the Blue and White. Dill reached base for the third time in the game this time by drawing a walk. She shifted to second when the Irish's second baseman mishandled a grounder by Aull. A grounder back to second turned a double-play, but the defense did not see Dill race all the way home for UK's run.
Notre Dame recorded a leadoff double to open the home half of the fourth, but the even-keeled Bell fired back with three straight outs to keep her scorecard clean.
Rowlands' one-out single through the left side placed a runner aboard in the top of the fifth for UK. With one out on the board, Yocke connected with her 11th home run of the season to lift UK to the 8-0 advantage.
Bell and the Wildcat defense wrapped up the five-inning shutout with three consecutive outs in the home half of the fifth to advance to the winner's portion of the bracket.
Follow along all season with the UK softball team at UKathletics.com.
ANN ARBOR SCHEDULE
Friday, May 20
Game 1 -- Kentucky def. Notre Dame 8-0 (5)
Game 2 -- Michigan def. Western Michigan 5-0
Saturday, May 21
Game 3 -- Kentucky vs. Michigan, Noon (ESPN)
Game 4 -- Notre Dame vs. Western Michigan, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 5 -- Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 winner, 5 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, May 22
Game 6 -- Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 7 (if necessary) -- Game 6 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
All times Eastern