Softball Pushes Win Streak to Six Games
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – The Kentucky softball team pushed their win streak to six games, the longest of the season, after earning two victories in the second day of competition at the Chattanooga Frost Classic. UK got a 10-4 win over Marshall in game one, and a 5-1 win over Eastern Illinois in the second game.
Kentucky picked up its first win of the day using a game of long ball. Senior Ashley Dimkich and freshman Meagan Aull both belted their first career round trippers to propel the Blue and White to the 10-4 victory over Marshall (8-7, 0-0).
“We were outstanding offensively today,” Head Coach Rachel Lawson said. “We executed very well in every situation, and it is always exciting for a team to have a couple of firsts- today it was (Ashley) Dimkich and (Meagan) Aull’s day.”
Marshall took an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first. The Thundering Herd began with two consecutive walks to put runners on base. A double scored both runners, and the third run came in on a single.
Kentucky wasted little time in responding to the early deficit, as they answered with four runs of their own. Freshman Megan Yocke got on base thanks to four consecutive balls. Natalie Smith advanced the runner with a lay-down sacrifice bunt. Molly Johnson then plated the first run with a double that hit off the left field wall. Destinee Mordecai scored Johnson on a single, and then promptly stole second. That’s when Dimkich blasted her first career home run over the left field fence, scoring two runs and giving the Blue and White the 4-3 advantage.
Both teams were held scoreless in the second inning before Kentucky increased its lead to five runs after scoring four runs in the bottom of the third. Mordecai led off the inning with a base hit to right field. Dimkich advanced the runner and reached on a fielder’s choice. Audrey Meyer then got in on the action, scoring Mordecai from second on a base hit of her own. With runners on first and third, Aull stepped to the plate and put the ball over the wall in right-center field registering three RBI.
The Wildcats added a run in the bottom of the fifth pushing the score to 9-3. Dimkich got things started with a single that dropped in the gap in center field. McCarty reached on a throwing error by the third baseman moving Dimkich to second. Meyer then laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners into scoring position. Dimkich came around to score on a groundout to the second baseman by Aull giving UK a six-run lead.
Dimkich knocked in her third RBI of the game in the bottom of the sixth to give Kentucky its 10 runs. Johnson recorded her third hit of the game to open the inning. Samantha DeMartine advanced the runner on another sacrifice bunt, and then Mordecai’s single pushed the runner to third. Dimkich ripped a single down the left field line plating Johnson.
Marshall tacked on a run in the top of the seventh off a home run to left field making the final margin 10-4.
Pitcher Amber Matousek gave up three runs in the top of the first, but then threw five scoreless innings until giving up the home run in the seventh. The sophomore tossed five strikeouts on the day pushing her season total to 39 as she improved her record in the circle to 3-4 for the season.
“I’m really proud of Amber’s (Matousek) performance on the mound today,” Lawson said. “She got in a bind early in the game, but it is always a true measure of a pitcher on how she responds to a bad situation and Amber threw a great game the rest of the way.
“Defensively Natalie Smith has improved her game so much this season. She really got us out of some tough situations today against a very good team.”
The Wildcats’ victory over Eastern Illinois resulted in Lawson’s 100th career victory as a head coach.
“I am very honored to have received all of my career victories coaching a school from the state of Kentucky,” Lawson said. “I look forward to many more as a Wildcat.”
In game two, Kentucky once again found themselves in an early hole. Eastern Illinois jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the second. The Panthers started the inning with a single, and then the run scored on a double that skipped to the fence in left field.
UK knotted the score at one in the bottom of the third. With two outs already on the scoreboard, the Blue and White got pressure singles from the top of the order. Yocke singled and advanced to third on a Smith single. Johnson brought the run home with a beautiful single right up the gut of the infield.
The Wildcats tacked on another run in the bottom of the fourth as DeMartine led off with a stand-up double to deep center field. Dimkich’s sacrifice bunt advanced the runner to third, putting DeMartine in an easy position to score. Mordecai ripped a single into left field and DeMartine rounded her way home giving the Blue and White its first lead of the game, 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth, Yocke doubled after finding a gap in right-center. Smith got on base with a fielding error by the second baseman, while Yocke advanced to third. Yocke scored on a fielder’s choice, as Smith was called out at second and Johnson reached first. During DeMartine’s at-bat, Johnson swiped second putting her in scoring position from second base. DeMartine’s single into center field brought Johnson around to score giving UK the 4-1 lead through five innings.
“Destinee (Mordecai) and (Molly) Johnson were clutch for us today in game two,” Lawson said.
Pitcher Jennifer Young threw five scoreless innings after giving up the one run in the top of the second. In the sixth inning, the Panthers put two runners on base but Young got herself out of the jam with two fly outs and a groundout securing the 4-1 UK advantage.
Kentucky added another run in the bottom of the sixth as Mordecai led off with her fifth single of the day. Katie McCarty laid down a sacrifice bunt putting the runner on second. Aull’s single to center field plated Mordecai from second giving the Blue and White the final margin, 5-1.
Kentucky improves to 8-7, 0-0, while Eastern Illinois falls to 1-4, 0-0 on the year. Young gets credit with her second win of the season after tossing six innings and throwing two strikeouts.
“Jennifer Young did a great job in the circle,” said Lawson. “She really kept us in the game until our offensive found its rhythm. Once we got rolling we were able to put some runs up on the board.”
Matousek came into the game in the top of the seventh to close out the victory for the Wildcats. The sophomore tossed one scoreless inning and sat three batters down on strikes. With 42 strikeouts already this season, Matousek is just one shy of tying her season career-high set as a freshman.
UK returns to action tomorrow with just one game at Jim Frost Stadium. Kentucky will face off with border-state rival Indiana at noon. Complete coverage of this weekend’s action can be found at www.ukathletics.com.