Kentucky rolls past California
Wildcats now one win away from clinching first WCWS trip
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Powered by three RBI from senior Meagan Aull, a dominating pitching performance from junior Rachel Riley and two hits each from sophomore Kara Dill and senior Annie Rowlands, the Kentucky softball team posted an 8-0 win in five innings against No. 7 California, on a steamy Sunday afternoon at the UK Softball Complex.
The win forces the decisive third game of the series, set for 3:30 p.m. ET at the UK Softball Complex. Cal won game one on Saturday afternoon, 1-0 and UK's 8-0 run-rule victory forces the finale of the series, with the winner advancing to the College World Series.
Kentucky (40-15) now sits just one win shy of advancing to the first Women's College World Series in program history, after the furious 10-hit, eight-run offensive attack and Riley's gem in the circle. Riley (13-5) picked up the win, going five innings, allowing five hits and no walks, striking out one.
Offensively, UK was led by Aull, who totaled a game-best three RBI. Eight of UK's nine starters collected hits, with Dill and Rowlands adding two hits each. Rowlands totaled a 2-for-2 game with an RBI and her second double of the year. Senior Megan Yocke, junior Brittany Cervantes, senior Samanta DeMartine, sophomore Alice O'Brien and Riley added hits.
Cal starter Jolene Henderson (38-8) suffered the loss, allowing six hits and five runs in two innings, walking two and not recording a strikeout. The 2011 Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year was replaced in the third frame by freshman Arianna Erceg, who went two innings, allowing four this and three runs, issuing one walk.
The Wildcats struck first in the bottom of the first inning, taking a 3-0 lead on three hits. Yocke led off the inning with a single smacked to centerfield and Dill ripped a single through the right side, with Yocke moving to third base on the single and Dill wisely taking second base on the throw to third to attempt to get Yocke. Aull then lined a single through the left side, scoring Yocke and Dill, with Aull taking third base after the throw to the plate skidded away. After Riley lined out for the first out, Cervantes grounded out to shortstop to score Aull lifting UK a 3-0 advantage.
UK added to its lead with two runs on three hits in the bottom of the second inning. O'Brien led off the frame with a single up the middle and Rowlands popped an infield hit over the head of the pitcher. After a failed bunt attempt went for the first out, Yocke drew a walk to load the bags for Dill. Dill singled to leftfield, scoring O'Brien, with Rowlands scampering to third base. Aull then lined a sacrifice fly to leftfield, scoring Rowlands for third base, with UK taking a 5-0 lead.
Kentucky stretched its lead to 6-0 with a run in the bottom of the third inning, DeMartine led off the frame with a walk, taking second base on O'Brien's ground out. Rowlands then doubled off the base of the wall in centerfield, allowing DeMartine to score from second base. The double was the second of the year for Rowlands.