Wildcats Fall 5-3 to Ohio State in NCAA Tournament
May 22, 2010
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Senior Molly Johnson blasted a pair of solo home runs, but the Wildcats came up short with a 5-3 loss at the hands of Ohio State Saturday evening. The loss subsequently ends UK's season with the second loss in the double-elimination NCAA Tournament.
Johnson was magnificent with two solo home runs - matching a career-high performance in that category. Fellow classmate Natalie Smith plated UK's third run of the game as the tandem concludes their brilliant careers in a disappointing loss in the NCAA Tournament. This senior class, also comprised by Amber Matousek, Destinee Mordecai and Jennifer Young has changed the culture of UK softball with their second straight appearance in the national tournament.
"They (the senior class) were great for us," UK coach Rachel Lawson said. "They were a great era. Somebody has to be the first and it was this class."
Behind the leadership of its five-member senior class the Blue and White posted the most successful seasons in UK history in the last two years. Kentucky charted consecutive 30-win seasons for the first time in school history. In the last two years the team has captured four post-season victories while achieving the school's first national ranking in 2010.
"Moving forward we know we have got get better," Lawson said. "This team the last two years has basically been the same team and they put us in a pretty good position to move on. I'm very proud of them and their work ethic and we're looking forward to actually doing better in the future."
With the loss, Kentucky falls to 32-27 on the season. Ohio State improves to 39-13 on the year.
UK opened to a 1-0 advantage off of a leadoff solo home run from Johnson. The senior charted her 100th career extra base hit with the solo shot.
The Wildcats missed out on a great opportunity in the bottom of the second. Meagan Aull opened the inning with a leadoff single through the right side. Samantha DeMartine shifted the runner into scoring position and then Mordecai delivered a one-out single up the middle. Annie Rowlands sent a chopper back to the shortstop and the speedy Aull took the chance racing home, but Ohio State caught her at home. The inning ended on a grounder to the shortstop as the Blue and White left two aboard in the frame.
Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell was perfect through the first two innings before yielding an opening single through the left side. The Buckeyes advanced the runner on a sac bunt, before Bell forced a pop-up to Smith at second. The inning ended when Bell picked up her third strikeout of the game.
Johnson repeated with a solo home run in the bottom of the third. The senior shortstop hit an identical shot to dead centerfield for a 2-0 UK lead. It marked the second time this season Johnson has drilled two home runs in a single game. She last achieved the feat in a UK win over Chattanooga in February. It marked the 13th home run of the season for UK's senior and the 35th of her career.
Ohio State cut the lead in half with a solo leadoff home run of its own off of the bat of Alicia Herron to make the score 2-1 in the top of the fourth.
Kentucky had a chance in the bottom of the fifth when leadoff batter Kara Dill reached on a throwing error by Ohio State's second baseman. Johnson shifted the runner into scoring position and Smith moved her to third. Yocke then drew a two-out walk to place runners on the corners before the stanza ended on a groundout to short.
The Buckeyes opened with a walk and an infield single off of a well placed bunt to open the top of the sixth. Herron matched Johnson with her second home run of the game to lift Ohio State to a 4-2 advantage.
Ohio State tacked on an insurance run in the visitor's side of the seventh. After a leadoff batter reached on a hit by pitch, an RBI double into the left-center gap plated the score for a 5-2 Ohio State advantage.
In a last-ditch effort UK got its first two batters to reach behind Ohio State fielding miscues to open the bottom of the seventh. Johnson skied a well-hit ball to deep right field which was caught on the warning track but it was enough to advance Rowlands to third. Smith's grounder to second plated Rowlands and shifted Dill to second. The game ended on a well-hit fly ball to deep right-center that the centerfield was able to get under and preserve the win for the host school.
The loss concludes the Wildcats' season. UK will lose five important seniors in this class, but will return 14 players from this season's roster including six position starters and the starting pitching rotation of Bell and Rachel Riley.
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