LEXINGTON, Ky. – Freshman Brittany Cervantes’ walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning propelled the Kentucky softball team to an 8-7 win and a sweep of the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at the UK Softball Complex. In addition to Cervantes’ blast, sophomore Megan Yocke continued her incredible series with her first career grand slam in the fourth inning to ignite the Kentucky offense.
The Blue and White improve to 29-18 overall and 11-13 in the Southeastern Conference with today’s victory. Mississippi State falls to 24-26 overall and 6-19 in the SEC.
This is the first time Kentucky has taken three straight games from Mississippi State since taking four straight from 1998-1999.
“It’s exciting to have so many different players have huge contributions in a game and in a series like we had this weekend,” said Head Coach Rachel Lawson. “These are signs of a championship team and I’m really proud of our effort. This team now knows that they can come back from any situation and continue to make things happen.”
With Kentucky trailing by a run in the bottom of the final stanza, Yocke drew a leadoff walk to put the tying run on base to open the inning. Cervantes had already tallied a pair of hits in the game, but the Bulldogs’ coach Jay Miller opted to pitch to the right-handed freshman. Cervantes made Kelsey Numberg pay after taking a 3-2 count and fouling off a number of pitches. The first year player drilled her team-best ninth homer over the left field wall for the game-winning walk-off blast.
UK is now just a half of a game from clinching a berth in the Southeastern Conference tournament. Kentucky returns to league action Saturday when they travel for the season finale at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are chasing several teams for a spot in the tournament, including Kentucky.
In an eerily similar start to yesterday’s first game, Mississippi State jumped out in front to a first inning 2-0 lead. The Bulldogs scored on three hits and a sacrifice fly in the opening frame for the early edge.
Kentucky quickly responded with a run of its own in the bottom half of the stanza. Junior Molly Johnson found a gap in left center for a leadoff double and would move to third on a wild pitch. Cervantes brought her home on a double of her own into nearly the same spot as UK inched closer with the score at 2-1.
Yocke’s grand slam highlighted a huge second inning for the Blue and White. Sophomore Samantha DeMartine drew an opening walk and pinch runner Macy Allen moved ahead a bag on a sacrifice bunt by senior Katie McCarty. Sophomore Annie Rowlands notched an infield single to put two runners on base when junior Destinee Mordecai drew a one-out walk to load the bases. After Johnson popped up in foul territory to the third baseman, sophomore Meagan Aull was plucked by a pitch to score the first run of the inning. Next up was Yocke who smacked UK’s fourth grand slam of the season to make the score 6-2 through two frames.
Mississippi State responded with three runs in the top of the third to bring the score to just 6-5 in favor of the Wildcats. The Bulldogs tallied their scores behind three hits including a double.
The visitors tied the score in the top of the fourth with a single run. All-SEC player Chelsea Bramlett reached on an error and made UK pay when she rounded home on a base hit from Kaili Smith.
The Blue and White had a great chance to reclaim the lead in the fourth when Johnson led off with her second hit of the game with a single into left field. She would move all the way over to third base through the course of the inning, but UK could not bring her home as the inning ended on three straight outs.
Mississippi State captured its second lead of the game with a single run in the top of the sixth. Bramlett reached on a single and would come home on another costly error by the Wildcats as Mississippi State would go ahead 7-6.
UK had another opportunity in the bottom of the sixth when Johnson recorded her third hit of the game with two outs. The speedy shortstop would shift into scoring position with her 21st stolen base of the season, but Kentucky could not come up with another hit to bring her home.
Yocke had a tremendous weekend for Kentucky going a combined 5-for-7 with six RBI and four runs scored. Cervantes totaled five hits, two of which were home runs and added a double to go along with five RBI for the series. Johnson also enjoyed an impressive weekend at the plate going 6-for-10 with five runs scored and four extra base hits.
Kentucky will return to the field for its final non-conference game of the season. UK will travel to in-state rival Louisville to complete their home-and-home series. Game time is set for 5 p.m. ET.
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information about the UK softball team.