BY LARRY VAUGHT
Not many expected Kentucky’s softball team to do what it has this season. The Wildcats won three games in NCAA Tournament play over the weekend in Lexington to advance to this week’s Super Regional at Oregon. The Wildcats will take a 39-17 record to Oregon after giving up just two runs in NCAA play — and none in the first 19 innings.
Kentucky lost to Oregon 5-4 in mid-February, a game that Kentucky freshman second baseman Alex Martens says UK could have easily won.
“We are better now than we were then,” Martens, who drove in five runs in her first three NCAA games, said. “We could have won that game but we know we can go and win.”
Coach Rachel Lawson, who has just one senior starter in her every day lineup, says UK’s unpredictability could be a big advantage in the Super Regional.
“I think that we’re starting to peak at the right time. If you would have asked me this a month ago, I would have said we’ve got a lot of work to do. But I think that right now, because we’re getting production in all parts of the lineup, we are better,” Lawson said.
She noted how she had no hesitation to start Erin Rethlake on the mound in game three last weekend rather than go with star Meagan Prince for a third straight game.
“The fact that I knew I could do that really says a lot. A few years ago, when we first started going to Supers, I really didn’t have a lot of options on the mound as much and we thought we would have to trick people. Now we’re OK just kind of going out there and playing our game,” Lawson said.
“So I feel good. I think the team is equipped. I think that Katie (Reed) has settled into the leadoff spot. If Abbey Cheek is seeing the ball and Brooklin (Hinz) continues to play well and Alex stays within herself, I think that we have a lot of options offensively as well. So I think we can be pretty tough. And our defense — overall we’re playing really well right now.”
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