UK Upsets No. 2 Michigan to Advance to Regional Final
May 21, 2011
ANN ARBOR Mich. - Using a 7-6 upset of the nation's No. 2 ranked squad and the NCAA Tournament's No. 10 overall seed in Michigan, the 21st-ranked Kentucky softball team advanced to the regional final behind another impressive offensive performance Saturday afternoon in Ann Arbor, Mich. Kentucky is now just one win away from advancing to its first NCAA Super Regional. UK will take the field at 1 p.m. ET Sunday, airing live on ESPN for the right to advance to the next round.
Kentucky (38-14) plated seven scores behind eight hits led by the bat of senior Samantha DeMartine who was 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of runs scored and two RBI. The senior has combined to go 4-for-5 in the NCAA Tournament and brought in four runs.
"That's very important (winning the first two games), especially if our offense continues to do what it's been doing, and with our deep pitching staff, we don't have to worry about them (the opponent) tiring one of our pitchers out," UK coach Rachel Lawson said. "We have a lot of options, so this is a good situation for us to be in."
Junior Brittany Cervantes was 1-for-1 and reached two more times by way of a walk while scoring three times to break the UK single-season record for runs scored with 54. Sophomore Alice O'Brien and freshman Emily Jolly both contributed a two-run single to aid the Wildcat cause.
Junior Chanda Bell picked up her second win of the postseason with a six- inning performance to improve to 15-6 on the season. Bell notched five strikeouts in the game and is now the first player in school history with 700 career strikeouts. Classmate Rachel Riley entered in the seventh with UK clinging to a one-run lead and forced three quick outs to earn her first save of the season and second of her career.
The win over Michigan is UK's first over a top-three opponent since knocking off No. 3 Florida in Gainesville, Fla., on April 17, 2010.
UK struck first for the second time in the NCAA Tournament with a run in the home half of the second. Cervantes got things started with the first hit of the game that sliced through the left side. DeMartine followed suit with a single that lofted into shallow left field to get two aboard. A grounder to short placed runners on the corners for pinch hitter Lauren Cumbess. The freshman sent a slow roller along the first base line, but Michigan's Dorian Shaw allowed the ball to slip between her legs and Cervantes rounded home for the game's first score and a 1-0 lead for the Wildcats.
The Blue and White exploded for a three-run inning in the bottom of the fourth to take a commanding 4-0 advantage. Riley doubled into deep center field to begin the rally. Cervantes was then then awarded first behind a five-pitch walk. DeMartine delivered her second clutch hit of the NCAA Tournament with a double into right to plate the first score of the inning. Following back-to-back strikeouts, Jolly came up with the biggest hit of her young career with a two-run single up the middle for the final two tallies of the stanza for the Wildcats.
UK continued its offensive onslaught with three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to stretch the lead to 7-0.
Senior Meagan Aull drew a one-out walk to start the rally in the fifth. She promptly stole her 70th career base to shift into scoring position. Following a fly-out to left, Cervantes reached base for the third time and second by way of a walk. Aull with some nifty base running scooted to third with another stolen base on the two-out full-count pitch walk for Cervantes.
DeMartine then stepped to the dish and posted her second consecutive double this time along the right field line to plate Aull. With a pair of runners in scoring position, O'Brien brought in the game's winning scores with a single into right field for the third runs of the frame.
Michigan answered with a run in the top of the sixth to break open Bell's 10.2 innings of shutout ball in the NCAA Tournament. The Wolverines scratched the board with three singles in the inning after managing just two hits in the first five innings of action against UK's righty.
Following a three-up and three-down situation for UK in the home half of the sixth, Michigan made things interesting with five runs in the top of the seventh. Michigan's last-ditch comeback effort was highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Ashley Lane.
With no outs and now just ahead by one run, Lawson turned to Riley. UK's right-hander from Bowling Green, Ky., calmly entered the game and dispersed of the Wolverines in order including inducing the final two outs by way of a strikeout to earn her first save of the season.
The Wildcats began the game in the field with Bell taking the mound for the second consecutive game. UK's right-hander got off to a terrific start by recording a pair of strikeouts in her first three outs to quickly scatter Michigan's top of the order.
Kentucky dropped in order in the home half of the first, although UK forced the Michigan fielders into making plays for the first three outs of the game.
After allowing her second base runner of the game to reach by way of a hit by pitch, Bell once again escaped the threat. Jolly at second base made an outstanding snag and pitched it to first for the third out of the second stanza.
Kentucky and Bell escaped another jam in the top of the third. UK's righty yielded her first hit of the game with a single to Lyndsey Doyle and then Shaw reached on a full-count walk. The inning ended on a crazy play with the count full, a check swing was initially ruled a hit by pitch but because she was swinging it is an attempted swing and therefore a strike three. The umpires ruled the batter out to end the inning with two runners stranded for Michigan.
Doyle picked up her second hit of the game with a two-out single into left field in the top of the fifth, but Bell induced a quick grounder back to her own glove to get out of the inning once again.
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 def. Michigan 7-6
Game 4 -- Notre Dame def. Western Michigan 4-0
Game 5 -- Michigan def. Notre Dame 9-8
Sunday, May 22
Game 6 -- Kentucky vs. Michigan, 1 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 7 (if necessary) -- Michigan vs. Kentucky, 3:30 p.m. (ESPN)
All times Eastern