Joiner, O’Brien Lead Wildcats to a Sweep of Ole MIss
|Kentucky 3, Ole Miss 1
|Kentucky 8, Ole Miss 0
|Florida State 8, LSU 1
OXFORD, Miss. – For the fifth consecutive time the Kentucky softball team has captured a series from Ole Miss with a doubleheader sweep in Oxford, Miss., on Wednesday evening. The Wildcats claimed a 3-1 win in the opening game before earning an 8-0 (5) win to cap off the night. Freshman Griffin Joiner and junior Alice O’Brien led the bats for the Blue and White with a combined seven hits and six RBI.
With the pair of wins the Wildcats push their record to 23-23 overall and 10-9 in Southeastern Conference action. Ole Miss falls to 16-26 and 3-16 in league play. Both of UK’s senior pitchers picked up wins with Chanda Bell going the distance in the opening contest and Rachel Riley capturing the second win.
Kentucky jumped out to an early advantage in the second contest plating three opening-inning scores to break open the game early.
Senior Brittany Cervantes began the game by drawing a full-count walk. Junior Kara Dill began the hitting rally with a single up the middle to place two aboard. Riley then found a hole in left-center to load the bases. Sophomore Lauren Cumbess delivered the first RBI-single when she found a spot in right field. Joiner notched the fourth consecutive hit for UK with a single into shallow center for the inning’s second tally. The last run would come home on an O’Brien RBI-single that also found a spot in right field for the early 3-0 advantage in favor of the visitors.
The Wildcats tapped home twice more in the top of the second to stretch the lead to 5-0. Cervantes opened the stanza with a solo homer over the right-center fence marking the seventh long ball in her last 10 outings.
Following a pair of lineouts, Cumbess notched a walk to keep the inning alive before Joiner sliced a double into left-center. With runners in scoring position, sophomore Emily Jolly loaded the bases with another walk. O’Brien then delivered an infield RBI-single for the inning’s second tally. A fly-out to deep left ended the stanza without UK adding to the lead any more.
Kentucky added to the lead with a trio of scores in the top of the fourth. Riley reached base by way of an error on the right fielder to get the lead runner aboard. Cumbess then dew her second consecutive walk. Joiner kept her hot-hitting day going with a double that dipped over the center fielder’s head to score pinch runner Sarah Frazer. Cumbess would tap home when Ole Miss’ shortstop tossed an errant throw home while Joiner would shift another bag on the play. UK’s freshman would score the final tally of the frame when she scooted home on a wild pitch moving Kentucky’s lead to a comfortable 8-0 advantage.
Trailing by one in the opening game, Kentucky struck for a pair of two-out runs in the visitor’s side of the fifth. Cervantes got things rolling with a double that nicked the top of the left-center fence. Dill followed with a hit that dipped into shallow left field and Cervantes came home to score on the play, while Dill shifted to second. Riley delivered an RBI single through the left side for the second run of the frame while lifting UK to a 2-1 edge.
UK plated an insurance run in the top half of the seventh to stretch the lead to 3-1. Dill reached with a one-out walk and promptly stole second. She shifted to third on a groundout to short before O’Brien sliced an RBI single into left-center for the tally.
Ole Miss jumped out in front in the home half of the first when the Rebels notched an inside the park home run to take an early 1-0 lead.
The Wildcats had a pair of defensive gems in the home half of the sixth to preserve their one-run edge. After a leadoff single opened the inning, Bell struck out the next batter she faced. During the ensuing at-bat a runner attempted to swipe second, but the Wildcats were not fooled and came up with the out. The final out came with a chopper to Jolly at second and then a terrific scoop for the out from Cumbess to end the threat.
In a last-ditch comeback effort the Rebels garnered a one-out infield single in the bottom of the seventh. The runner shifted to second on a groundout to Cervantes at third, and Bell struck out the sixth batter of the game for the winning-out.
No. 23 Softball Stymied by No. 22 Florida State
BATON ROUGE – The No. 23 LSU softball team was unable to connect back-to-back wins to open its five-game homestand as No. 22 Florida State emerged with an 8-1 victory Wednesday at Tiger Park.
The Tigers (30-14) and Seminoles (39-10) met on the softball diamond for the first time since LSU’s 2-1 victory in an elimination game at the 2004 Women’s College World Series.
LSU scored its lone run of the contest during the seventh inning. Tammy Wray knocked a one-out single to right field before giving way to pinch runner Alex Boulet, who provided a spark off the bench with a steal of second base. She alertly scooted to third base following the stolen base after the Florida State defense was caught out of position on the play.
Two batters later, Ashleigh Kuhn cranked a RBI single to plate Boulet for the final margin of 8-1. Jacee Blades notched a 2-for-3 performance to claim her third multi-hit effort of the season, while Ashley Langoni drew her 38th walk of the season to match former All-American Ashlee Ducote’s single season record set in 2000.
“I really don’t have an answer for them,” head coach Beth Torina said. “Honestly, they looked very unprepared tonight, and that’s my fault. “We haven’t played back-to-back mid-week games this year. We usually have a day to prepare for our opponents, and we didn’t have time to prepare for either of them [McNeese State or Florida State] coming back from Tennessee on Monday. That’s really the only thing that I can attribute this type of performance to.”
Florida State dented the scoreboard with a pair of runs in the first and third innings to build a 4-0 advantage. Kirstin Austin and Courtney Senas provided the key hits and laced two-run singles to centerfield and left centerfield, respectively.
The Seminoles tacked on a Celeste Gomez solo home run with one out during the fourth inning to push their lead to 5-0 and chase LSU starter Brittany Mack from the game. Mack was dealt her fourth straight setback by a Top 25 opponent and fell to 12-8 for the season.
“Tennessee, Alabama and Florida State – I’ve got to give credit to them,” Mack said. “They’ve got some good hitters. I could try and place the ball a little better, but they’ve got some really good hitters. I just had a bad day today.”
Rachele Fico fired 3.2 frames of two-hit relief and notched three strikeouts. The three Ks allowed Fico to pass Cody Trahan (2007-10) for sole possession of sixth place on LSU’s all-time list.
Florida State added three unearned runs in the seventh inning aided by a Wray fielding error and a Morgan Russell passed ball to make it 8-0. Monica Perry went the distance for the Seminoles in the circle to move to 18-5 on the season. She gave up one run on five hits and recorded four strikeouts versus two walks.
“I didn’t think that Brittany was the reason we lost tonight,” Torina said. “I think that we didn’t play very well as a team. I thought that this was the worst game that we’ve played the entire season on all sides of the ball. I thought we played defense very poorly, I thought we pitched poorly, I thought we swung the bat poorly.”