UK Drops Pair of One-Run Games at USC
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The University of Kentucky softball team dropped a Southeastern Conference doubleheader today, Apr. 21, at South Carolina. The Wildcats scored thee in the top of the seventh in game one, but fell by a final of 6-5 in the opener. USC won another one-run decision in the nightcap, taking the second matchup by a score of 2-1.
Kentucky moves to 19-23 overall and 4-18 in the SEC, while USC improves to 31-16 on the year with a 9-10 mark in conference play.
In the opener, the Gamecocks took a 1-0 lead on Jessica Josker’s solo home run in the bottom of the second.
The Wildcats were hitless through the first four innings, but Molly Johnson singled to right field to start a Kentucky rally. She went to second when Alli Eckman walked and Ashley Dimkich was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Pinch hitter Gina Florence drew a bases-loaded walk to tie the game at one. Natalie Smith then singled up the middle to drive in Eckman and give UK the 2-0 edge.
USC knotted the score in the home half of the fifth. Jacqueline Wetherbee doubled off the wall in left and went to third on a base hit to right by Ashton Payne to put runners at the corners. Both would come around to score on a single to right field by McKenna Hughes as the Gamecocks went on top 3-2.
Jenny Sibert reached on an error with one out in the top of the seventh and went to second on a single to left field by Smith. The bases were cleared when Brooke Marnitz belted a two-out homer over the wall in right to put the Wildcats ahead, 5-3. The longball was Marnitz’ SEC-leading 20th of the season.
The Gamecocks would come back in the bottom of the seventh to steal a win from the Cats. After two quick outs by Amber Matousek, leadoff hitter Payne drew a walk and went to second on an infield single. Megan Jolly came in to relieve Matousek and allowed a base on balls to Hughes to load the bases for USC. A two-run double tied the game at 5-5 and the next batter, Lindsay Walker, hit a single down the left field line to give the Gamecocks the 6-5 walkoff win.
Smith, Johnson and Marnitz each collected two hits in the loss. Smith was 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI, while Marnitz went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBI. Johnson finished 2-for-3 with two singles and a run scored. Florence added an RBI with her bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning.
Jolly falls to 7-8 on the year after allowing one earned run on two hits in the seventh. Matousek had a solid start for the Cats, giving up five runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings of work. The freshman struck out two and walked just one batter on the day.
In the second game of the afternoon, it was the Gamecocks who used the longball to take another early lead. USC went ahead 1-0 in the second on a solo homer to left by Becky Martinez.
USC added another run in the fourth when Tori Martin walked, went to second on a fielder’s choice and scored on an error by Johnson at third.
The Wildcats managed just two hits through the first five innings with a double to left by Alli Eckman in the second and a single by Johnson in the fourth.
Kentucky broke open the shutout in the top of the sixth. Marnitz led off the inning with a single and went to second on a single to left by Katie Campbell. Marnitz was erased on a double play, but Ashley Fertic followed with a two-out single to center to plate Campbell and make it a 2-1 USC lead. That sent the Gamecocks to the bullpen for game one starter Melissa Hendon who retired the side to end the inning.
UK starter Lindsay Brogdon retired the side in order in the bottom of the sixth, but the Wildcats could not muster another comeback as they fell by the final of 2-1.
Brogdon took the loss to fall to 0-2 on the year after giving up one earned run on five hits in a complete game. The junior walked three and struck out one USC batter.
The series concludes on Sunday with a single game set for 1 p.m. at Beckham Field.