Wildcats Win Seventh Straight To Capture Tourney Title
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The Wildcat softball team claimed its second tournament title in as many weeks with a perfect 4-0 record at the Kentucky Invitational this weekend, Mar. 5-6, in Lexington. UK defeated Youngstown State (3-5) 8-4 in its opener on Sunday, followed by a 10-3 victory over Belmont (4-5). The Cats are now 11-14 on the year and have tied a school record with seven straight wins. The last win streak ties a school record, achieved only once before from Mar. 12-24, 2002.
In the first game of the afternoon, YSU grabbed an early lead with four runs in the bottom of the first on five hits to send the Cats to the bullpen early. Meghan Cooper relieved Samantha Allen to retire the final batter and get UK out of the inning.
The Wildcats plated a pair of runs in the top of the second to pull within two. Brooke Marnitz drew a base on balls and stole second. She scored on a single by Jenny Sibert. Emily Marks singled and scored on a bases-loaded fielder’s choice by Alli Eckman.
The Cats made it 4-3 in the fifth when Ashley Fertic doubled to drive in Eckman who had a lead-off single.
UK added a five-spot in the top of the sixth to take a four-run edge. Aided by three YSU errors, the Cats scored five times on four hits. Martniz tripled and scored on a single by Marks to start the scoring. Jessica Nance and Fertic belted a pair of two-out run-scoring singles in the inning to put the Cats on top by the score of 8-4.
Marks and Eckman each went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Fertic added two hits and drove in a pair in the win over the Penguins. Cooper got the win for the Cats to improve to 3-6 on the year. She tossed 6.1 innings of shutout softball, giving up just four hits and striking out three. The Golden, Colo., native retired the side in order four times, including the bottom of the seventh.
In the final game of the tourney, the Cats pounded out 10 hits for the second straight game and took advantage of five Bruin errors.
After Belmont took a 3-0 lead in the second on two hits and an error, the Cats answered with six runs in the home half of the inning. Martnitz recorded her first home run of the season and the third of her career to put UK on the board. Eckman drove in a pair of runs with a double to left-center field, followed by a two-run single off the bat of Nance.
UK added two more runs in the third to go on top 8-3, followed by another pair in the fourth to take a 10-3 lead. Fertic led off the fourth with a double to left field and scored on a single up the middle by Megan Glenn.
Allen went the distance for UK on the mound and gave up just two earned runs on seven hits over 7.0 innings. The freshman starter notched a new career-high with nine strikeouts and improved to 8-6 on the year with the victory.
Four Wildcats – Nance, Marnitz, Marks, Eckman – racked up two hits apiece, while Nance and Eckman each drove in a pair. Marnitz and Lori Melchi each scored two runs as well.
“I’m proud of the way we been able to put together a winning streak and the fact that we keep finding ways to win,” said head coach Eileen Schmidt. “We just need to keep getting better and keep progressing.”
Kentucky returns to action Tuesday, March 8, when it hosts intrastate rival Louisville. First pitch is scheduled for 4 PM at the UK Softball Complex.