Yocke's Bat, Pitching Clinches Series with Auburn
March 15, 2009
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Sophomore Megan Yocke `s walk-off solo home run in the first game, and the pitching tandem of freshman Chanda Bell and junior Amber Matousek propelled the Kentucky softball team to a series-clinching pair of victories Sunday at the UK Softball Complex. The Blue and White finished yesterday's postponed game for a 4-3 victory, and then topped that off with an 8-0 victory in five innings in game two.
Kentucky improves to 14-6 on the season and 3-2 in the Southeastern Conference. Auburn, who is receiving votes in both top-25 polls, drops to 20-8 overall and 3-2 in the conference. Today's 8-0 victory in the second game is the first run-rule victory in conference play for the Blue and White since the Wildcats defeated Tennessee 10-2, on May 3, 2000.
Yocke had a spectacular day at the plate going a combined 4-for-7 which included her fourth home run of the season for the game-winner in the first game. She also tallied two triples and four RBI in her magnificent performance.
"Megan Yocke really was a professional hitter today," said Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson. "She was extremely calm in the batter's box and knew exactly what she wanted to do with every pitch she saw. It was really fun to watch her performance."
In addition to Yocke's presence at the plate, Kentucky got impressive pitching from Bell and Matousek. The freshman right-hander tossed seven complete innings for her eighth win of the season in the first game. She tied her own school record with 15 strikeouts in that contest.
Matousek earned her fifth win of the year in the circle in game two. She threw four scoreless innings and yielded just a single hit while striking out three batters.
"Our pitching was awesome," Lawson said. "Both Amber and Chanda really owned the circle today and they were the major reasons why we were able to get these wins."
Sophomore Meagan Aull contributed a 3-for-5 day at the plate which included a three-run home run in the second game. It was the first round tripper of the season for the center fielder. Junior Molly Johnson chipped in with two hits and three runs scored, and junior Destinee Mordecai had a two-run blast over the wall in game one for her second home run of the season.
Kentucky engineered 10 hits in the second game, and eight UK hitters tallied at least one hit.
"Our offense is continuing to improve," Lawson said. "We are learning how to generate a string of hits and our confidence is growing on a daily basis."
In the first game which began last night, Auburn jumped out in front with two runs in the top half of the second after loading the bases on three consecutive walks. The Tigers got a two-out base hit to score two runs for the early advantage. The visitors etched another tally on the scoreboard in the top of the third frame after back-to-back doubles to open the inning improving their lead to 3-0.
The Blue and White fired back in the bottom half of the fourth though, as junior Natalie Smith led off with a single that split the right side. She advanced to second on a masterful sacrifice bunt by freshman Brittany Cervantes. Mordecai swung at the very first pitch she saw and smacked the ball over the left-field fence for a two-run home run.
UK's next two batters, senior Katie McCarty and sophomore Annie Rowlands, were plucked by a pitch to place runners on first and second with just an out when the home plate umpire called for the tarp to be pulled. The game was then postponed with Kentucky trailing 3-2.
With play resuming today at 1 p.m. ET, Johnson flied out to center field and then one of Kentucky's base runners was ruled out for not tagging the bag before advancing a base on the fly out.
In the home half of the fifth, Yocke delivered a one-out triple that ricocheted off the center field wall. She came home on a muffed catch by the right-fielder during sophomore Samantha DeMartine's at-bat tying the score at three a piece.
Bell continued to dominate Auburn in the circle only allowing one base runner over the final two innings. Smith added to the defensive performance for UK with a dazzling snag for the second out of the inning in the fifth, helping prevent Auburn from scoring which in turn set the stage for Yocke's heroics. With a single out, Yocke fended off a number of pitches including several that were well-hit foul balls until she received a full count. On the very next pitch she jacked a shot over the left field fence for the game-winning walk-off home run.
In game two, Kentucky wasted little time getting on the scoreboard. Johnson led off by reaching base after an error by the Tigers' shortstop in the first inning. Yocke brought her home with her second triple of the day for the early 1-0 advantage.
The Blue and White would go on to plate four runs in the bottom of the third inning for a 5-0 lead. Rowlands ignited the rally with a single into the left-center gap. Johnson laid down a bunt and reached base with her quick feet. That's when left-handed batter Aull pulled a shot over the right field fence for a three-run score. After two outs, Smith doubled down the right field line and came home on Cervantes' single into center field.
Kentucky added three runs in the bottom of the fourth for the final 8-0 margin. Freshman Kristen O'Haver was rewarded for a tremendous at-bat when she singled through the left side to lead off the inning. Rowlands converted a sacrifice bunt to put the runner in scoring position, and Johnson's single up the middle brought in the first run. She would then promptly swipe second when Aull delivered a single to the shortstop to advance the runner, setting the stage for Yocke once again. The catcher would put a ball into left field to score both runners and close the game for Kentucky.
With both teams on spring break from school, they will play the third game of the series on Monday, March 16. First pitch is slated for noon ET. Admission is free to the game.