Home Runs Lift Wildcats Past UCF
HONOLULU, Hawai’i – Sophomore Molly Johnson and junior Becky Bishop each knocked a two-run home run to lift the University of Kentucky softball team to a 4-1 win over Central Florida in the third-place game of the Paradise Classic Sunday. It was the first multi home-run game for the Blue and White (3-7, 0-0) this season, and the first round trippers of the season for both Johnson and Bishop.
After struggling offensively all day Saturday the Wildcat bats started quickly in the final game of the Paradise Classic. Sophomore Natalie Smith got things started with a single through the right side of the infield making way for Johnson in the three-hole. Johnson responded with her first home run of the season as she took the ball opposite field over the right field wall giving the Blue and White all the runs they would need as they took the early 2-0 advantage.
Kentucky added two insurance runs in the top of the sixth inning making the score, 4-0. Smith once again started the inning with a single up the middle. Johnson’s bunt down the right line pushed Smith to second. That’s when Bishop stepped to the dish and thumped a ball to right-center field for the two-run homer.
UCF’s Cat Snapp gave the Golden Knights their lone run of the game with a solo home run to center field in the top of the seventh inning. Snapp was the lone offensive threat of the day for the designated visitors as she went 3-3 on the afternoon.
The Knights began the top of the third inning with a double to left-center field, but a good defensive effort and quality pitching from sophomore Jennifer Young prevented a run from crossing the plate. UK forced a pop fly to second base, and got the next batter, a sacrifice bunt, out at first. The final out of the inning came when the Golden Knights sent a high-fly ball right at Meagan Aull in center field.
The Golden Knights had another prime scoring opportunity in the top of the fifth, but once again Kentucky’s defense buckled down and prevented any runs from crossing the plate. After UCF opened the inning with a double, UK forced an out as the runner advanced to third on the sacrifice bunt. Young forced the second out into a foul pop up to Katie McCarty at third. The inning ended with a high pop up out to Smith at second, as UCF squandered a runner at third for the second time in the game.
Young went the distance for the Blue and White and earned her first win of the year on her first start. The right-hander pitched six scoreless innings before giving up the home run in the seventh inning.
In addition to Johnson’s and Bishop’s long-balls, Smith tallied two singles. Sophomore Destinee Mordecai had a double in the first inning and senior Audrey Meyer added a single in the second.
Kentucky will next be in action Sat. and Sun., Feb. 23-24. UK will host Toledo for a three-game set, for the season’s home opener at the UK Softball Complex. First pitch on both days is slated for 1 p.m. Complete coverage of the Wildcats can be found at www.ukathletics.com.