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    Three-Run Fifth Inning Enough for Wildcats

    CARBONDALE, Ill. – A three-run fifth inning was enough offense for the 24th-ranked Kentucky softball team to squeak out a 3-0 victory over Purdue early Sunday morning at the Coach B Classic on the campus of Southern Illinois. The Wildcats earned a multi-hit outing from freshman Emily Jolly and a quality pitching performance from junior Rachel Riley to earn their fourth consecutive victory. With the win the Wildcats improve to 13-3 overall on the season and snap a seven-game winning streak by Purdue who falls to 10-4. Jolly led the bats with a 2-for-3 day which also included what proved to be the game’s winning RBI single in the third. Riley tossed a complete-game shutout effort which included a career-high eight strikeouts in the win. The junior also provided an offensive spark with a leadoff double to open the three-run fifth frame. Kentucky broke open the game with a three-run fifth inning to take a 3-0 edge. Riley helped her own cause with a leadoff double into the left-center gap to open the frame. The bats came alive when Jolly registered her second hit of the game with an RBI single up the middle. UK would put runners on the corners when senior Megan Yocke laid down a sacrifice bunt and then was able to reach base following an erroneous throw from Purdue’s catcher. Jolly’s swift base running enabled her to move all the way to third when the ball landed in shallow right field. Sophomore Kara Dill then executed a masterful suicide-squeeze to plate Jolly. Yocke attempted to move all the way to third, but was caught on the base paths. Dill, however, was able to move to second during the relay. The heady base running paid off when junior Brittany Cervantes laced a ball off of the left field line to plate the inning’s final run. Riley and the Wildcat defense escaped a jam in the bottom of the first after allowing a leadoff single. Purdue advanced the runner into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but that would be all the closer the Boilermakers would get to home plate as Riley retired the next two batters. Kentucky had a prime opportunity to strike first in the top of the third when Jolly singled into center with one out. Yocke advanced the runner into scoring position with a slow roller back to the pitcher. Jolly was able to shift to third with a wild pitch prior to Dill earning a base after getting drilled with a pitch to place runners on the corners. The inning ended with a grounder back to the pitcher as UK was unable to scratch the scoreboard. Purdue doubled with one out in the bottom of the fourth, but Riley and the UK defense buckled down once again. Riley picked up her fourth strikeout of the game and then forced a fly out to senior Meagan Aull in center to end the inning and preserving the scoreless tie. The Boilermakers earned a leadoff walk in the home half of the fifth. Kentucky’s defense then flashed brilliance when the Blue and White were able to turn a double play. Purdue attempted a sacrifice bunt, but popped it up to a charging senior Samantha DeMartine who swiftly flicked it to Jolly at first for the conversion to clear the base paths.