UK wins series vs. No. 5 Gators
Series win marks first against Gators since 2000 for Wildcats
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- No. 23 Kentucky tallied four runs in the bottom of the fourth to overcome a three-run deficit to down No. 5 Florida 7-6 and earn the series from the Gators for just the second time in school history. The two wins in consecutive nights against Florida marks the first series for the Blue and White over Florida since 2000.
Kentucky trailed 6-3 going into the bottom of the fourth and the Wildcat bats triggered a four-run fourth and junior pitcher Rachel Riley was able to keep the powerful Florida offense at bay for the remaining three and two-third innings to lead UK to the win.
The Wildcats improve to 24-7 overall on the season and 10-3 in Southeastern Conference action with its fifth consecutive victory. Florida falls to 30-6 on the year and 7-5 in league action. Today's win marked the sixth late-inning comeback effort for the Blue and White this season and the sixth win of the year over a top-25 ranked opponent.
Riley was masterful in relief as she allowed just one hit to the hot-hitting Gators to pick up her seventh win of the season and the sixth over a top-seven ranked opponent in her career. She struck out four and walked just one.
"We're pretty lucky to have the number of quality pitchers on our staff which allows our offense to continue to feel comfortable and fight back," UK coach Rachel Lawson said. "I have to give our offense a lot of credit for continuing to chip away."
Junior Brittany Cervantes and senior Meagan Aull both hit home runs in the game to lead the offense. Cervantes was 2-for-4 with four RBI and Aull went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and two runs scored. Senior Megan Yocke also contributed a 2-for-4 day as UK had nine hits in the game.
Trailing by three going into the bottom of the fourth, Riley was the first batter to reach base as UK benefited from a fielding error by Florida's shortstop. Junior Macy Allen shifted the runner into scoring position and Aull doubled off the left field fence to bring in the first tally of the stanza.
Yocke followed suit with a single to third base and Dill loaded the bases by sending a chopper to third. Aull's heady base running enabled the play to stay alive by out-racing Florida's third baseman to reach safely at third. Cervantes delivered in a big way with a bloop single into shallow right field to bring in the game's winning scores and give UK the lead at 7-6 it would never relinquish. Cervantes' clutch hit marked the seventh time this season she has been responsible for the game's winning tallies.
Kentucky grabbed an early 3-0 advantage in the bottom of the first behind a pair of long balls. Aull connected with the first offering she saw in the lead off slot. UK's centerfielder drilled a shot over the center-field fence for the quick advantage. It marked the second homer in as many games for the Owensboro, Ky., native.
Dill kept the inning going by drawing a one-out walk, and Cervantes drilled her team-leading 10th round tripper of the season to lift the Blue and White to a 3-0 edge.
Florida left runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings of action and finally struck for a run in the top of the third to bridge the gap at 3-1. Starting pitcher Ellen Weaver yielded a leadoff walk to Michelle Moultrie who would come around to score on a RBI-single from the bat of Megan Bush.
The visitor's erupted for five runs in the fifth to take the first lead of the series at 6-3. The Gators plated their scores on three hits including a three-run homer from Aja Paculba in the stanza. Riley was inserted in the circle and quickly picked up two quick outs to prevent any more damage.