LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Behind a five-run, three-hit second inning, the Kentucky softball team kept its season alive Saturday afternoon with a 5-4 win over Valparaiso in an NCAA Softball Tournament elimination game. Valpo made things interesting with a four-run fifth inning to bridge the gap. With the win, Uk fights to move on and will face No. 15 seed Louisville in another elimination game at 8:24 p.m. ET.
Senior Rachel Riley picked up her ninth win of the season, marching to 9-7 on the season, while classmate Chanda Bell picked up her fourth save on the season in relief. Riley went 4.2 innings, allowing only three hits, and one earned run while striking out three Crusader batters. Bell worked 2.1 scoreless frames while earning three strikeouts, including the game-winning out.
Kentucky got the bats going in the second inning, striking for five runs in the top of the frame. After Valpo recorded the opening out, sophomore Ginny Carroll drew a walk which was then followed up by single from junior Alice O’Brien. On the single, the Cats used aggressive base running in which Carroll advanced to third while O’Brien swiped second on the throw. With sophomore Lauren Cumbess at the plate, Valpo starter Sam McGee threw her only wild pitch of the game, allowing Carroll to score from third and O’Brien to shift to second.
Cumbess eventually drew a walk. After a groundout that advanced runners to second and third, sophomore Emily Jolly laced a single through the left side, scoring O’Brien and moving Cumbess to second.
The line-up turned over for senior Brittany Cervantes who reached on an error by the Valpo third basemen, allowing Cumbess and Jolly to score. The final run would be scored when junior Kara Dill charted the Wildcat’s third single of the frame, scoring Cervantes from second for the 5-0 advantage.
After Riley sent down the first 12 batters in order, Valpo designated player Brittany Duncan drew a walk. After a defensive miscue by the Wildcats, Joylyn Ichiyama-Drewry roped a double, scoring two. After a single by Kelsey Phalen, Lindsey Norway advanced on a fielder’s choice, and advanced all the way to third on a throwing error by the Blue and White. After Phaken scored from second, Sara Strickland tallied a single up the middle to score Phaken and close the Crusaders to within a run at 5-4. Bell came in for relief and retired the final batter to close the threat.
The Crusaders notched a single off of Bell in the final inning and nothing else as Bell charted her fourth save of the year, striking out two in the final inning, including the final batter of the game with the tying run on and the winning run at the plate.
With the win, Kentucky advances to the night session and will take on in-state foe Louisville, who is the nationally-seeded team in the region. The game will take place Saturday night and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK softball postseason, log on to UKathletics.com.