NCAA Womens Softball Tournament

UK drops game - Photo provided by Chris Shoals - UK Athletics
UK Advances – Photo provided by Chris Shoals – UK Athletics

BSN is proud to be covering the Women’s NCAA Softball Tournament being held in Lexington. Please check back daily for more updates and coverage of this Tournament.

Wildcats Hold Off Late Illinois Rally to Advance to Supers

Cheek and Martens lead offensive effort in victory

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The 14th-seeded Kentucky softball team staved off a late Illinois rally to hold on for a 4-2 win and advance to a fifth appearance in an NCAA Super Regional. The Wildcats utilized a three-run first inning and added a run in the third for all of the insurance runs they would need to preserve the win.

With the win, Kentucky improves to 39-17 on the year. Illinois’ season ends with a 39-20 overall record. Erin Rethlake picks up the win in the circle for the Cats. The lefty tossed 5.2 innings, giving up five hits and one run and struck out four. Meagan Prince pitched the final 1.1 innings, giving up just two hits. Illinois’ Breanna Wonderly takes the loss after a complete game effort.

UK’s offensive firepower came from the bat of freshman Alex Martens who has bolstered the lineup all weekend. Martens drove in three runs and scored a run of her own in the win. Abbey Cheek was 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. Rethlake was the other Wildcat with a pair of hits in a 2-for-3 performance at the dish.

Ruby Rivera and Annie Fleming were both 2-for-3 for the day for the Fighting Illini. Rivera also scored a run, while Fleming drove in a run. The Illini scored two runs over the final two innings to pull to within two with a runner on third before a dribbler up the middle was handled by Prince to preserve the win.

For continuing coverage of the Lexington Regional visit the tournament central page on UKAthletics.com.

(14) Kentucky Plays Its Way Into Super Regionals for Fifth Time

Wildcats play winner of the Eugene regional

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the fifth time in program history, the Kentucky softball team is off to the NCAA Super Regional round, claiming a sweep of the 2017 NCAA Lexington Regional thanks to a 4-2 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday afternoon at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington.

The Super Regional appearance for Kentucky is its fifth in the last seven years, and fourth in the last five years under head coach Rachel Lawson. The Wildcats won all three games of the regional which began on Friday, sweeping a home regional for the first time in program history.

The Wildcats will face the winner of the Eugene, Oregon Regional next weekend in a best-of-three series that will be three games over three days. Currently, Oregon is in the driver’s seat as the 2-0 team. Should Oregon win the regional, UK will travel to Jane Sanders Stadium in Oregon for the super. If Wisconsin wins the regional, Kentucky will host the super regional.

Kentucky broke the ice with a three-run first inning, as Brooklin Hinz tripled to CF with two outs to score Abbey Cheek, and then Alex Martens hit her fourth home run of the season to straight-away center to make it 3-0. The Wildcats got an insurance run in the top of the third to make it 4-0 after an Abbey Cheek lead-off triple.

With the tying run on deck in the sixth inning, Meagan Prince came on and shut the door on her fifth save of the season, tying the Kentucky single-season record, and career record as Sunday was her ninth-career save in the blue and white.

Erin Rethlake earned the win in the circle, throwing 5.2 brilliant innings, allowing just one run on five hits to the 22 batters she faced at the plate. She moved her overall record to 10-5 on the season and dropped her season ERA to 1.82, which leads all Kentucky pitchers.

Key Stat

Eight. Kentucky mustered eight hits in the first four innings off Illinois pitcher Breanne Wonderly.

Key Play

The key play in the game was in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Katie Reed layed out with a diving stop deep in the hole at shortstop and denied lead-off batter Stephanie Abello of a base hit to start the inning. That kept the basepaths clear and Rethlake retired the side in order to put UK up 4-0 going to the sixth.

Key Player

The key player in the game was Alex Martens. The freshman second basemen went 1-for-2 on the day with a home run, and three RBI. On the weekend, Martens hit .714 with 5 RBI, a home run, two runs scored, a double and five hits.

Run Recap

With two outs and a runner on first in the top of the first, Brooklin Hinz tripled to deep center to score Cheek and make it a 1-0 lead. The next batter was Martens, who launched her fourth home run of the season to right center to score Hinz as well and put UK up, 3-0. UK 3, ILL 0

In the top of the third, Abbey Cheek led off the inning with a triple to right center, and came around to score on an Alex Martens SAC fly to right. UK 4, ILL 0

The Fighting Illini got a run on an RBI single with two outs from Annie Flemming to score Ruby Rivera. UK 4, ILL 1

Illinois got a lead-off runner to third on an error, and that run scored on an RBI groundout, but Prince got a dribbler back to the circle to close out the game and punch Kentucky’s ticket to the Super Regionals. FINAL – (14) Kentucky 4, Illinois 2

For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web atUKathletics.com

Illinois Prevails in Nightcap to Advance to Sunday’s Final

Illini need two victories vs. Kentucky to advance to Super Regional

LEXINGTON, Ky. – A six-run third inning provided the fireworks for the Illinois softball team’s 10-2 win over Marshall in an elimination game Saturday night. The Illini advance to Sunday’s Final against host Kentucky. Illinois will need two victories over the Wildcats to advance to the Super Regional. First pitch of the day will begin at Noon ET.

Illinois improves to 39-19 on the year. Marshall’s season ends with a 42-12 record. Illinois’ Erin Walker, who pitched three innings of relief ball is credited with the win. Starter Breanna Wonderly tossed two no-hit innings to begin the game.

Illinois plated 10 runs on 11 hits. Kiana Sherland was 3 for 4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. Rowan McGuire also totaled a multi-hit outing with a 2-for-3 day at the dish. McGuire added an RBI and a run scored as well. The Illini plated two runs in the opening inning and then added six in the top of the fourth. The designated visitors added a pair of insurance runs in the fifth frame.

Marshall plated two runs in the home half of the fifth in a last-ditch effort to prolong the game. Briana Daiss blasted a pinch-hit two-run homer for the Thundering Herd’s runs.

For continuing coverage of the Lexington Regional visit the tournament central page on UKAthletics.com.

Meagan Prince Pitches Kentucky into Sunday’s Regional Final

Wildcats play winner of elimination game at Noon ET on Sunday

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior pitcher Meagan Prince threw her third complete-game shutout of the season on Saturday afternoon as the No. 14 Kentucky softball team powered its way to the Lexington Regional Final with a 1-0 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini.

With the win, Kentucky is the 2-0 team in the Lexington Regional, and earns a spot in Sunday’s regional final – where it will need to win just one game to advance into the Super Regionals. The Wildcats will face the winner of Saturday night’s elimination game and it will either be Marshall, Illinois or DePaul.

The game will be shown live on the ESPN Family of Networks with the specific assignment to be relayed on Sunday morning.

Key Stat

  1. Meagan Prince needed just 102 pitches on Saturday to advance the Wildcats into Sunday’s regional final. Prince went the distance, throwing all seven innings, allowing just three hits and retiring the last 14 batters in the Illinois order consecutively.

Key Play

The key play in the game was Katie Reed’s play deep in the hole at shortstop in the top of the seventh inning against the Illini’s best hitter, Nicole Evans. The ball was hit on the border of the dirt and the grass with little pace, and Reed scooped it and threw her out for the first out of the inning.

Key Player

Breanne Ray was the key player in the game, sending a SAC fly to right field, to score the game’s only run.

Run Recap

The only run of the game was scored in the bottom of the fourth inning, as Bailey Vick was walked to lead off the inning. Brooklin Hinz layed down a bunt to get Vick to second and then she advanced to third on a single by Martens. Ray then flied out to right, deep enough to score Vick on the SAC fly. FINAL – (14) Kentucky 1, Illinois 0

For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web atUKathletics.com

(14) Kentucky Silences DePaul, Into Winners Bracket

Wildcats play Illinois at Noon ET on Saturday afternoon

LEXINGTON, Ky. – With five runs in the bottom of the first and an additional insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, the No. 14 Kentucky softball team advanced into the winner’s bracket of the 2017 NCAA Softball Lexington Regional on Friday afternoon with a 6-0 win over the DePaul Blue Demons.

The Wildcats will face the Illinois Fighting Illini in the winner’s bracket game at Noon ET on Saturday from John Cropp Stadium. The winner of that game will then move into the regional final on Sunday afternoon, where they will need just one win to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. Illinois knocked off Marshall in a thrilling 3-2 win in 12 innings in the first game on Friday.

Kentucky’s offense came out swinging in the first inning on Friday night, scoring five runs on four hits in the opening frame to put away the Blue Demons early. Combine that with stellar pitching from Meagan Prince and Erin Rethlake in the circle, and it was a winning formula for Rachel Lawson.

All of Saturday’s games in the Lexington Regional will be shown on an ESPN platform to be announced late Friday night.

Key Stat

Five. The Kentucky offense plated five runs in the first inning, the most first-inning runs scored in a single game this year for the Wildcats.

Key Play

Jenny Schaper’s two-RBI double to the gap in right center made it a 5-0 game in the bottom of the first inning, and was the key play in Friday’s decisive win.

Key Player

Alex Martens was the key player for Kentucky, going 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBI hits in the game. Martens plated UK’s second run of the game in the bottom of the first inning with a single to right field, and then scored Abbey Cheek from first base on an RBI double to right in the bottom of the fifth.

Run Recap

Katie Reed led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, and came around to score on an infield single by Abbey Cheek with one out. Alex Martens then singled in Brooklin Hinz, who walked, and that made it 2-0 UK with one out in the inning. Breanne Ray doubled off the second basemen’s glove and into right field to score Cheek and that made it 3-0. The fourth-straight UK hit was a two-RBI double by Jenny Schaper into the gap in right center. UK 5, DePaul 0

Kentucky would play add-on in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Martens doubled to center field to score Abbey Cheek from first base, who got on with a fielder’s choice earlier in the inning. FINAL – (14) Kentucky 6, DePaul 0

For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web atUKathletics.com

Illinois Outlasts Marshall in Opener of Lexington Regional

Nicole Evans’ single in bottom of 12th lifts Illini to opening victory

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Illinois’ Nicole Evans singled into right center field to lift the Illini to a 3-2 win in the bottom of the 12th inning over Marshall in the opener of the Lexington Regional on Friday at John Cropp Stadium.

The two teams battled through five scoreless innings after the Thundering Herd scored a run on a suicide squeeze in the top half of the sixth to tie the game at two runs apiece.

Illinois improves to 38-18 overall and Marshall falls to 41-11. Illinois’ Breanna Wonderly worked all 12 innings, yielding eight hits and two earned runs. She struck out eight and walked just one batter. Marshall’s Jordan Dixon also went the distance with 11.1 innings tossed. She gave up 11 hits and two walks, while striking out four.

Illinois advances to the winners’ bracket and will play the winner of the Kentucky-DePaul game at Noon ET at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday. TV designation will be determined this evening. Marshall will take on the losing team of Friday’s second game in the second game of the slate on Saturday at approx. 2:30 p.m. ET.

The Illini’s Annie Fleming enjoyed a 3-for-5 day at the dish, including a home run in the bottom of the fourth. Kiana Sherlund was 2-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored. Evans had two hits in six at bats with the game-clinching RBI.

Morgan Zerkle led the Thundering Herd with a 2-for-6 outing at the plate and a run scored. Taylor McCord drove in a run on her bunt single in the sixth.

For continuing coverage of the Lexington Regional visit the tournament central page on UKAthletics.com.