Weaver's Bases-Clearing Double Lifts UK to Series Win
March 24, 2012
AUBURN Ala. - Sophomore Ellen Weaver's bases-clearing double and a game-saving diving snag by junior Kara Dill all the fifth inning lifted the Kentucky softball team to a 5-2 upset of No. 18/21 Auburn for the decisive series-winning victory on a gorgeous afternoon in Auburn, Ala. Weaver smoked a three-run double in the fifth to give UK a three-run advantage. Dill then came up with a diving catch to prevent the Tigers from scoring in any runs in the home half of the inning despite loading the bases.
With the win Kentucky has secured its first conference series win of the season and improves to 15-15 on the year and 2-3 in Southeastern Conference action. Auburn drops to 24-9 and 2-5 in league play.
Senior Rachel Riley was terrific in the circle working a complete-game victory for her fourth of the season. Riley allowed just one earned run and a mere five hits in the win.
Kentucky took an early lead by plating a score in the top half of the first. Dill reached after getting hit by the first pitch of the game. Riley then singled into the right-center gap to place runners on the corners. Joiner then delivered an RBI-single that fell just beyond the glove of an out-stretched Lauren Guzman's hands at shortstop running towards left-center. The run gave UK the early 1-0 advantage. Auburn answered with a run of its own in the home half of the first. Guzman opened the inning with a double along the left line and was able to move to third on a groundout to third. Riley then struck out the next batter for the second out of the inning. She appeared to induce a groundout for the final out of the frame, but a speedy Amber Harrison beat out the throw to plate the tying run.
With the score tied at one, sophomore Ginny Carroll began the fourth with a double into the right-center gap. Following consecutive outs, sophomore Lauren Cumbess smacked her own double into the same hole to bring Carroll around for the score and again give the visitor's a one-run lead at 2-1.
Mimicking the early stages of the game Auburn responded to Kentucky's run with one of its own in the home half of the fourth to tie the score for the second time in the game. The Tigers picked up a one-out double into left-center to place a runner in scoring position. On a routine grounder to third, UK logged the second out, but aggressive base running had the Auburn runner take off for third during the relay to first. UK responded by attempting to get the runner at third, but the ball got away from the Wildcat defenders enabling the run to come home and knot the score at two. UK responded in a big way in the top of the fifth to claim a 5-2 advantage. Senior Brittany Cervantes earned a one-out walk to get the rally going. Riley then reached on a fielder's choice with Cervantes also advancing to second cleanly. Freshman Griffin Joiner sent a dribbler to the third baseman who muffed the ball and had no play to load the bases. Following the second out of the inning, Weaver came up with a spectacular bases-clearing double into the right-center gap for the three-run lead. It marked the second consecutive game that the Wildcats plated three runs with two outs in the fifth frame.
Auburn nearly turned the trick of responding to the Wildcats tallies in the home half of the fifth. The Tigers loaded the bases with just one out after being hit by a pitch, earning a single and a walk. With one out coming on a sacrifice bunt, Riley picked up the second out with a pop up to Cumbess at first base. The final out of the inning came on a dazzling defensive dandy from Dill. The junior laid out for a liner in the five-six hole and came up with the grab to prevent Auburn from scoring. After both teams suffered 1-2-3 innings in the second, Cervantes laced a one-out single into left field on relief pitcher Jenee Loree in the third. UK would leave her stranded, however, as the Blue and White suffered consecutive outs with her on first.
Auburn had an opportunity in the bottom of the third, but Riley and the defense stepped up to prevent any damage. Guzman singled through the right-side with one out and would advance on a wild pitch. A grounder back to Dill at short registered the second out of the inning, but Guzman was able to shift to third to advance into prime scoring position. Elizabeth Eisterhold then notched a walk to place runners on the corners. Harrison connected on a pitch that came hot off of her bat, but landed right in the out-stretched glove of Riley on the mound to end the inning.
Cumbess and Dill both singled in the top of the sixth, but UK could not push across any additional scores as the inning ended with a runner stranded. Auburn got the lead runner aboard in the home half of the sixth when she was hit by a pitch. Riley, however, was unfazed as she retired the next three batters she faced.
Riley and Joiner both logged their second hits of the game to open the top of the seventh with consecutive singles. UK, however, could not add any insurance runs with the runners left stranded on three consecutive outs.
Auburn needed three runs in the home half of the seventh to prolong the game. The Tigers got the first batter aboard due to an errant throw by the Wildcats. A groundout to short resulted in the first out of the frame. Auburn then placed its second runner on base with a walk. Riley, however, did not waver as she forced a pop-up to sophomore Emily Jolly at second for the second out. She then came up with a strikeout with a nasty change-up to complete the victory.
The teams will complete their three-game series Sunday with a 2 p.m. ET first pitch.
For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK softball season log on to UKathletics.com.