You know May has arrived when you hear talk about the Kentucky Derby, Mother’s Day, and Kentucky Softball in the post-season. For the 10th year in a row, UK has qualified for the NCAA Tournament and for the 4th time in the past 5 years, the Cats are hosting a regional. This year’s Lexington Regional, a double-elimination format, features Notre Dame, Michigan, and the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) in addition to the Wildcats.
While fans filled John Cropp Stadium on Friday ready to watch a double-header, the weather had other ideas. In a first game that included a rain delay of just over 2 hours, Notre Dame defeated Michigan. Kentucky and UIC were set to begin their game 3 hours later than originally scheduled, but they never made it through the completion of starting lineups being announced as another storm front arrived. Eventually, the decision was made to reschedule the game for 10:00 am Saturday.
The Cats wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as 8 batters came to the plate in the 1st inning and UK held a 3-0 lead. Adding another run in the 2nd extended the lead to 4-0 and it appeared the Cats were going to run away with the game.
But a couple of empty innings for the Cats kept the game in doubt. Add to that the top of the 4th inning which was not a great display of defense for Kentucky. Two throwing errors and then a wild pitch allowed the Flames to finally get a run to cut UK’s lead to 4-1.
The Hittin’ Kittens responded nicely in the 5th, though. Alex Martens walked and ended up on 3rd after Hinz’ grounder resulted in a UIC throwing error. Suddenly, instead of 1 out and 1 runner on base, the Cats had runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and Mallory Peyton at the plate. Peyton did not disappoint as she hit a single up the left field line allowing Martens and Hinz to score. Another throwing error allowed Peyton to advance to second and in the blink of an eye, the Cats were ahead 6-1.
It didn’t stop there, though. A single by Johnson and then a walk to Rachel Metzger loaded up the bases with Bailey Vick coming to bat. Vick reached first on a fielder’s choice, but Peyton was forced out at home. With Jenny Schaper coming to the plate, UIC decided it was time for a pitching change and Trudeau (4.1 IP, 6 hits, and 7 walks) left the circle to make way for relief pitcher Karissa Frazier. On the 4th pitch by Frazier, this happened:
Erin Rethlake got the win, pitching 5 innings and allowing only 2 hits and 1 run. Peyton and Schaper drove in 7 of the Cats’ 10 runs. Kentucky advanced to the winners’ bracket and will face Notre Dame who defeated Michigan yesterday in the only game that was completed on the first day of the regional. Originally scheduled for 3:00 pm today, the start time has now been pushed back to 9:30 pm because of multiple rain delays. Whenever it takes place, look for the Hittin’ Kittens to keep on rolling!
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