Weaver leads Kentucky past LSU
Freshman hurler strikes out nine in first career SEC start
BATON ROUGE, La. - The No. 24 Kentucky softball team got a solid pitching performance from freshman Ellen Weaver in a 6-1 series-opening victory against No. 25 LSU on Friday in Baton Rouge. Weaver made her first career Southeastern Conference start and went the distance while tossing nine strikeouts.
Senior Megan Yocke and junior Brittany Cervantes homered for UK.
Kentucky improves to 19-4 overall on the season and 5-1 in SEC play. LSU drops to 15-12 on the year and 0-6 in conference play.
UK's offense matched a season high with 13 hits. Senior Samantha DeMartine was one of three batters with multi-hit performances. DeMartine struck a trio of singles in a 3-for-4 afternoon. Senior Meagan Aull posted a 2-for-3 day with a pair of runs scored, and Cervantes was 2-for-3 with three RBI and the homer.
Six other UK players registered at least one hit.
"I thought it was a heck of a performance for Ellen Weaver who was making her first career SEC start against a terrific program," UK coach Rachel Lawson said. "Our offense also did a great job, not only with the long ball but we also generated some runs. We were aggressive early and I think it put LSU on their heels a bit."
The win against the Tigers is just the third in program history. UK last defeated LSU in 2009 in the opening game of the series. Kentucky was utilizing a freshman pitcher in that start as well, marking two consecutive victories against LSU with a freshman on the mound.
The Wildcats' offense struck early as Yocke led off the game with a solo shot over the left-field wall. It marked the third home run in four games for UK's senior catcher. Aull continued her hot-hitting streak with a one-out single into right. Aull shifted to second on an illegal pitch and Cervantes' sacrifice bunt pushed Aull to third. Freshman Lauren Cumbess' RBI single into shallow left field plated the second run of the stanza for an early 2-0 edge.
Weaver allowed LSU's lead batter to reach with a hit by pitch. A one-out infield single put two runners aboard, but the UK lefty forced a groundout and a foul-out to Yocke behind the plate to escape the early jam.
UK tacked on two more runs in the top of the third to take a 4-0 lead. Sophomore Kara Dill was plucked with a pitch to open the frame and Aull singled with a well-timed bunt to put two runners aboard. The speedy duo converted a double-steal to place both runners into scoring position and Cervantes delivered with a single through the left side to plate both runs.
LSU plated a score in the bottom of the third to bridge the gap to a 4-1 score. The Tigers posted a pair of singles to bring home the leadoff batter who reached by way of being hit by a pitch.
Kentucky stranded three in the visitor's side of the fourth. Freshman Emily Jolly singled into left field with one out. Following a fly-out to right, Dill sent a chopper over the third baseman's head. The duo completed the second double-steal effort of the day for UK to place both runners in scoring position. Aull loaded the bases with two outs when she was struck with an inside pitch. The inning came to a close, however, when LSU's right-fielder Alex Boulet made a diving snag in foul territory.
In the home half of the fourth, Weaver allowed consecutive batters to reach base behind a hit by pitch and an infield single. UK's freshman stepped up to retire the side behind three consecutive strikeouts to prevent LSU from adding any runs to the scoreboard.
LSU had another excellent opportunity in the home half of the sixth, but Weaver was unfazed and stepped up again. The home squad loaded the bases, in part, thanks to a throwing error by UK and anther hit by pitch with two outs. Weaver was able to get Tiffany Shaw to strike out, leaving all three runners aboard.
Cervantes got her team-leading eighth home run of the season over the left-center fence with one out in the top of the seventh to lead another two-run frame. Junior Macy Allen kept the inning alive with her first base hit of the season - an infield single. Allen quickly made her presence felt on the basepaths with a stolen base to move into scoring position with just one out. DeMartine charted her third hit of the contest with a single through the right side to place runners on the corners. A grounder to short by sophomore Alice O'Brien plated Allen to make the final margin at 6-1.