CARBONDALE, Ill. - Senior Meagan Aull and sophomore Kara Dill sparked the 24th-ranked Kentucky softball team to a 9-5 win over Southern Illinois behind a season-high 13 hits in the opening game of the Coach B Classic. Aull was 2-for-4 with a double and a triple while sophomore Kara Dill charted a career-best three hits and tapped home a career-high three times.
Freshman pitcher Ellen Weaver earned her fourth victory in as many starts behind a career-best 10 strikeouts in a complete-game effort. She bettered her previous high of five strikeouts tossed in a win over North Florida in the opening weekend of play.
Kentucky improves to 12-3 overall on the season with the win and Southern Illinois drops to 10-4 on the year. Aull and Dill were two of five UK batters to record multi-hit outings. Junior Brittany Cervantes, senior Megan Yocke and Weaver also charted a pair of hits in the win. Additionally, Aull extended her career-best hitting streak to eight games.
The Wildcats struck early for a trio of runs all coming with two outs on the scoreboard to open the game in the top of the first. Dill singled up the middle with one out and would shift to second on a grounder to short. An RBI double into the left-center gap by Aull plated Dill from second for the first tally of the game.
Freshman Lauren Cumbess then singled into left and the speedy Aull had enough time to round home for the second score of the game. The heady base running by Cumbess allowed her to advance to second during the relay home. Cumbess would move to third on a ball-four wild pitch that allowed senior Samantha DeMartine to reach base. A single into center by sophomore Alice O'Brien brought in Cumbess for the 3-0 UK edge to begin the game.
Southern Illinois responded with two runs during the home side of first to reduce UKs' advantage to just one run and a 3-2 score. The Saluki offense charted its scores on two hits and a walk.
Kentucky tacked on two more runs in the top of the second to move ahead 5-2. Dill began the offensive output for the second consecutive inning with a two-out single-bunt. She'd scoot over to third following a successful stolen base and then a poor throw into left-center allowed Dill to advance another bag. Cervantes' double laced the left field line scoring the first run. Aull then charted her second extra-base hit of the game with a high-flying triple that plucked the left field fence to plate Cervantes for the second tally of the stanza.
UK increased its lead to 8-2 following a three-run fourth frame. The Blue and White scored three runs in an untraditional manner due to four illegal pitches called on Southern Illinois' pitcher Alex Peters. Yocke led off the inning with a single through the left side and would shift to second on Dill's third hit of the game.
Both Yocke and Dill would round home on a pair of illegal pitches during Cervantes' at bat. Cervantes picked up her second hit of the game with a single that fell in the center field hole. Another illegal pitch called moved Cervantes to second. Aull sent a chopper to the second baseman that the Saluki fielder couldn't corral to place runners on the corners. DeMartine plated the final run with a sac fly into center for the six-run lead.
The Blue and White plated another run in the top of the fifth to stretch the lead to 9-2. Freshman Emily Jolly reached base thanks to a fielding error and then shifted to second on a passed ball. Yocke would bring her home with a single through the right side for the inning's lone score.
Southern Illinois plated the game's final runs in the bottom of the seventh. The Salukis scored the runs behind a three-run home run from the bat of Morgan Barchan to make the final score 9-5.
Kentucky returns to action for two games on Sunday to wrap-up play at Southern Illinois. UK is set to take on Purdue at 10 a.m. ET and SIUE at Noon.
Complete coverage of the Wildcat softball team all season long can be found at UKathletics.com.