Yocke Anchors Infield Combined with Youth and Experience

UKathletics.com will preview the 2011 Kentucky softball season in three parts by featuring one of UK's captains in Meagan Aull, Megan Yocke and Rachel Riley. Part Two features Yocke and the UK infield.

Jan. 14, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Following the most productive back-to-back seasons in school history, the UK softball team is just a month away from beginning the 2011 season. The Wildcats have combined for 66 victories in the last two seasons while appearing in consecutive NCAA Tournaments to put together the most prolific two-year run in school history.

Senior catcher and captain Megan Yocke aims to lead a team combined with youth and experience in the infield.

"I am confident that we will once again be relying on our infield to create an advantage against many of our opponents," UK coach Rachel Lawson said. "We have a nice mix between experience that will be provided by (Megan) Yocke, (Samantha) DeMartine and (Brittany) Cervantes and the "big play" mentality that our younger players bring to the table."

Yocke is a three-time All-SEC performer and has twice been named to the All-Southeast Region team. A starter in all 170 games of her career, Yocke boasts the best fielding percentage in school history with a mark of .989. The senior from Sunnyvale, Calif., also ranks third all-time in school allure with 840 career putouts. The team's leader is also just as productive at the plate. She paces the returners with a career batting average of .311. Yocke has smashed 14 home runs in her career while bringing in 86 career RBI. She is magnificent in advancing runners with 36 career sacrifice hits and six career sac flies.

"We've worked really hard to get to where we are, which defense is the strength of our game," Yocke said. "We move around fast, and we do our best to keep the ball in the infield. Our pitching staff forces a lot of ground balls, and that makes our jobs that more important."

The corners of the infield have experience with junior third baseman Brittany Cervantes and senior first baseman Samantha DeMartine providing additional experience for the Blue and White. The Wildcats have continually improved defensively in each of Lawson's three years at the helm. Kentucky totaled a combined fielding clip of .966 while committing just 56 errors last season.

"Early in the season we will be relying on our corners to anchor our middle infield as they (the middle infield) get comfortable with the speed that will be required to be effective in the SEC," Lawson said.

DeMartine posted career-highs in batting averages, doubles, slugging percentage and on-base percentage in her junior season. DeMartine possesses a .983 career fielding clip and 703 career putouts. At the plate she has delivered over 20 extra base hits. As a junior, DeMartine totaled a .252 batting average and a career-best eight extra base hits. She also delivered a career-best .986 fielding clip with 329 putouts.

Cervantes ranks third all-time in school history with 20 career home runs and a .506 career slugging percentage. The junior has blasted 10 home runs in each of her first two seasons of action. With two bombs against Western Michigan in the opening weekend of action in 2010 she became the first UK player since 2007 to hit two long balls in the same outing. Cervantes has split time at third base and at catcher during her two-year career. She has combined for 202 career putouts and 160 career assists.

Sophomore Kara Dill saw action in 54 games and made 44 starts at third base for the Blue and White in her freshman season, and will now shift to shortstop for UK in 2011. The LaGrange, Ohio, native charted a .238 batting average with nine stolen bases in her first season of action. She also contributed 15 putouts and 39 assists for the defense.

"I have been waiting a year to put (Kara) Dill back in the place where she belongs which is up the middle," Lawson said. "Kara is a smooth athlete with a high softball IQ. She has all the tools necessary to be one of the best middle infielders in the SEC."

The Wildcats have added additional depth to the infield with six incoming freshmen and junior Ashleigh Gustafson has focused more on infield action in the offseason.

Freshmen Lauren Cumbess, Sarah Frazer, Aubrey Lamar and Krystal Smith will add additional depth to the infield full-time. Freshmen Ginny Carroll, Emily Gaines and Emily Jolly provide UK with flexibility as the trio can see action in either the infield our outfield.

Cumbess will see action on the mound, but she is also equally dynamic as a first baseman. As a junior in high school, she posted a .378 batting average. On the summer circuit, she had a batting average of .387. Frazer will also see time at first base as a walk-on freshman.

Lamar is a three-time All-State performer. As a junior, she led the state of South Carolina in RBI (53), doubles (17), home runs (7) while also ranking among the state leaders in batting average (.494), and runs scored (39).

Smith was ranked as one of the top-100 players in the country by Adidas Futures. She provides versatility to the infield and can play any position. As a high school player she posted a sizzling .492 batting average and a team-leading 30 runs scored.

The 2011 UK infield will be a combination of experience from four veterans and a talent-rich freshmen class. For continued success in the upcoming year, Kentucky will need the defensive effort to continue to shine and for progress at the plate to persist.

Complete coverage of the Wildcat softball team can be found at UKathletics.com.