Wildcats Split Double Dip with Hilltoppers
April 30, 2003
The University of Kentucky softball team (15-40) played their final home games of the season Wednesday, splitting a doubleheader with instate opponent Western Kentucky (27-27). The Wildcats opened the day with a 2-1 win but fell 7-4 in the second game. Prior to the games, the SEC announced that junior Crystalie Wolfe had been named SEC Pitcher of the Week for her two-shutout performance last week.
In the first game, the teams traded runs in the third inning. In the top half, Western used a walk, a double and a single to plate the game's first run.
Kentucky would answer in the bottom half of the inning. Sophomore Megan Brooks led things off with a double down the left field line, her seventh two-bagger of the season. After advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Wolfe, senior Nikki Jones hit a sacrifice fly to center that allowed Brooks to score and tie the game.
The Wildcats would get the winning run in the next inning. Junior Rachel Friberg singled and advanced to second on a ground-out. Sophomore Jessica Nance hit a sharp grounder to the shortstop that wasn't fielded cleanly. Nance beat out the throw and Friberg came all the way around to score, giving UK the 2-1 lead.
Freshman Amy Kendall earned her tenth win of the year, giving up four hits and striking out three. The Wildcat defense turned three double plays in the game, giving them 27 on the year. They led the country last year with 32.
Between games, members of the Kentucky men's basketball and football teams competed in a home run derby. Hitting off a tee placed in the pitcher's circle, five members of each team were given five swings to get as many over the fence as they could. The football team won for the second year in a row, hitting 10 over to basketball's eight.
Kentucky seemed to have the momentum in the second game. In the first, Friberg hit a sacrifice fly to center scoring Jones who had singled and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by freshman Lori Melchi and a single by senior Lyndsey Angus.
The second inning saw Kendall blast her third home run of the year, a solo shot to right center field. In the third, Kendall made it to the plate again and knocked a double to right centerfield, scoring Friberg who had singled earlier.
The Hilltoppers started chipping away at the 3-0 Kentucky lead, scoring a run in the fourth. In the fifth, Western would take the lead with four runs, including a bases-loaded, three-run double by Dana Rey.
Kentucky managed to get a run across in the bottom of the inning thanks to two WKU errors, but the Hilltoppers led 5-4 going into the last frame.
Western scored a couple of insurance runs in the top of the seventh and despite two baserunners in the bottom of the inning by the Wildcats, Hilltopper pitcher Allison Silver, who had entered in relief of starter Adrienne Lathrop in the sixth, earned her second save of the year as WKU got the win, 7-4.
Earlier in the day, the SEC office named junior Crystalie Wolfe the SEC Pitcher of the Week for her performances against Louisville and Arkansas. Wolfe pitched a complete game four-hit shutout against Louisville for her first career win. Her next game was against the Lady 'Backs, where she held Arkansas to only one hit for her second straight shutout and the first SEC win of her career. It was the first one-hitter thrown by a Kentucky pitcher since March 8, 2001. She was also the first UK pitcher to throw two consecutive complete game shutouts since Keary Camunas accomplished that feat against Florida, April 22-23, 2000.
Kentucky will close out the 2003 season this weekend when they travel to take on Iowa, the alma mater of UK coaches Beth Pruitt and Lynda Cook. The Hawkeyes are currently ranked 23rd in both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA top 25 polls.