Softball Splits Twinbill With No. 18 Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. ? The Kentucky softball team split a Southeastern Conference doubleheader at No. 18 Georgia today, Mar. 17, to improve to 14-9 on the year and 2-5 in league play. The Bulldogs had not lost an SEC game and had won 10 straight, including an 11-0 win in the first game of the twinbill. The Cats snapped that streak with a 6-1 victory in the nightcap. UGA moves to 25-9 overall with a 3-1 mark in conference play.

The win over the Bulldogs was the first over a nationally-ranked opponent this season and the first since the Wildcats defeated then No. 24 Florida last season (Apr. 22) in Gainesville.

UGA jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in the first inning of game one. They added three in the second and two more runs in the third and won game one by a final of 11-0. The Wildcats managed just one hit off Georgia starter Kaci Carroll who got the win after striking out four in 3.0 innings of work. Carroll improved to 18-3 on the year with the win.

Freshman Amber Matousek took the loss for UK, giving up 11 runs on 11 hits in 4.0 innings. Fellow freshman Natalie Smith had the lone hit for the Wildcats with a single through the left side in the top of the third.

The Wildcats looked like a much different team in game two. Smith led off the game with a single up the middle and went to second when Brooke Marnitz reached on an error. Katie Campbell then reached on a fielder?s choice to load the bases for Becky Bishop who was hit by a pitch to bring in a run and give UK the early 1-0 lead.

UK starter Megan Jolly gave up a one-out single in the top of the first, but the Wildcat defense turned its 13th double play of the season to retire the side in order. She sat the Bulldogs down in order again in the second inning.

The Wildcats added to their lead in the third when Marnitz doubled to left field to lead off the frame. She went to third on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Campbell and plated the second run of the game on an RBI double by Bishop.

Jolly stranded three runners in the top of the third, pitching out of a jam when she gave up two walks and a hit batter. UK third baseman Molly Johnson threw a runner out at the plate and Jolly got a pop-up to Smith at second to end the threat and strand all three baserunners.

Kentucky continued to add to the lead in the top of the fourth. Destinee Mordecai singled to right and went to second when Smith beat out a bunt single. Ashley Fertic laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up and Johnson brought both home with a double off the wall in right. Marnitz singled to put runners at the corners and Campbell delivered a sacrifice fly to center to drive in Johnson and give UK a 5-0 advantage.

The Wildcats plated their final run in the top of the fifth when Ashley Dimkich reached on a fielder?s choice and came around to score when Smith reached on a three-base error by the UGA second baseman to give the Wildcats a 6-0 lead.

The Bulldogs erased the would-be shutout in the bottom of the seventh when a run scored on three singles, but Jolly and the UK defense ended the threat and stranded two baesrunners as the Wildcats held on for the 6-1 win.

UK belted out 13 hits in game two, while UGA had just six. Marnitz went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Smith was 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. Johnson added two RBI, while Bishop also drove in a pair. Gina Florence added a two-hit performance and Campbell finished 1-for-2 with an RBI in the Cats? second SEC win of the year.

Jolly earned the win for Kentucky to even her record at 3-3. The Owensboro native gave up one earned run on six hits in the complete-game win. She struck out one and walked three UGA batters.

Carroll (18-4) got the loss for Georgia after allowing six runs on 13 hits in 7.0 innings of work.

The Wildcats and Bulldogs face off in the rubber game of the series on Sunday afternoon. Game time is set for 2 p.m. at the Bulldog Softball Complex.