April 1, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After Kentucky had tied the score at two in dramatic fashion in the top of the seventh, the No. 9/10 Tennessee Lady Vols answered with a walk-off two-run homer as rain began to fall in the area to clinch the decisive third game of the series by a 4-2 margin. Shelby Burchell connected on a 1-2 offering to plate the winning scores.
With the loss the Wildcats drop to 16-19 and 3-6 in Southeastern Conference action with Tennessee improving to 27-8 and 9-5 in league play. Sophomores Lauren Cumbess and Emily Jolly both logged a pair of hits in today's contest to lead the Wildcat bats.
Jolly sliced a double into right-center to open the third inning. After the first out of the inning, junior Kara Dill dipped a double over the first baseman's head and just inside the right field line for an RBI-double and lifting UK to a 1-0 advantage.
The Lady Volunteers responded to UK's score with one of their own. Lauren Gibson lofted a two-out solo homer over the left-center fence to knot the score in the bottom of the third.
Tennessee added to its lead with a tally in the home half of the fifth. The Wildcats appeared to escape a pair of runners in scoring position with a grounder, but the Wildcats could not hook up on the throw enabling the runner on third to move home. Tennessee then loaded the bases, but Bell kept UK within one run by striking out the pinch hitter for the final out of the frame with the home team ahead 2-1 through five.
Needing a score to prolong the game in the top of the seventh, UK delivered to knot the score at two. Cumbess picked up her fifth hit of the series with a single up the middle to open the frame. Pinch hitter Emily Gaines successfully converted a sacrifice bunt to move pinch runner Sarah Frazer into scoring position. Frazer would scoot to third on a groundout to shift into prime scoring position with two outs. She'd move the final 60-feet for the tying score thanks to a wild pitch by Ellen Renfroe.
After the Wildcats dropped in order in the top half of the first, Raven Chavanne opened the home half of the stanza with an infield single. She'd swipe second to move into scoring position, but senior Chanda Bell quickly dispelled of the threat with three consecutive outs.
Cumbess notched a two-out single through the left side to record her fourth consecutive hit in the series. Kentucky would leave her stranded at first, however, as the inning concluded with a strikeout.
The Lady Vols loaded the bases in the bottom of the second thanks to a catcher's interference, a walk and a single up the middle. Bell, however, escaped the jam unscathed with a groundout to Cumbess for the frame's final out.
Freshman Griffin Joiner reached with one-out in the top of the fourth after being struck with a pitch. The inning concluded with a double-play, preventing UK from formulating a rally.
Bell worked around a pair of two-out singles by getting Chavanne to groundout to Smith and end the inning without allowing further damage.
In the top of the fifth Jolly earned her second hit of the contest with a chopper up the middle. Following a deep fly-out in foul territory to left field Jolly was able to shift to second with the tag. Dill then earned a base by way of a walk to place two aboard. UK could not convert on the opportunity with a fly-out to center to end the stanza.
After UK was retired in the top half of the sixth, Bell's quality pitching performance continued into the home half of the inning. She logged a 1-2-3 inning to keep the Blue and White within striking distance trailing by one going into the top half of the seventh.
Kentucky will meet top-15 ranked Louisville for a midweek contest in Louisville on Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET. The Cardinals claimed a 1-0 win over the Wildcats in Lexington a week earlier.
For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK softball season, log on to UKathletics.com.