STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Kentucky softball team dropped a heartbreaking 2-1 contest in extra innings to Mississippi State on Saturday afternoon. The Bulldogs converted a walk-off one-out RBI-single in the home half of the extra frame to prevail and capture the series. Kentucky stranded nine runners in scoring position in the contest.
With the loss Kentucky falls to 23-25 overall and 10-11 in Southeastern Conference action. The Bulldogs moved 27-19 and 10-14 in league play. The teams will meet for a final time at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday.
With the score deadlocked at one in the home half of the eighth the home team. The Bulldogs had their leadoff batter reach by way of a walk and a sacrifice moved her into scoring position. MSU’s clean-up hitter delivered a slow roller up the middle and the runner was able to beat out the throw home for the winning score.
Kentucky opened the game by plating a score in the top half of the first. Senior Brittany Cervantes opened the game slicing a double into right-center. Junior Kara Dill laid down a magnificent bunt and reached base to shift Cervantes to third, but Dill attempted to stretch the single into a double and was called out on the base paths. Riley then earned a walk and a passed ball enabled Cervantes to shift home for the score. Kentucky had the bases loaded with one out, but a double play ended the threat and prevented UK from scoring more than one in the opening frame.
The home team evened the score at one with a tally in the home half of the fifth. The Bulldogs got aboard on an error by the Wildcats and were able to move to second on the play. Following a groundout that enabled the runner to move to third a single into right field plated the score to tie the score at one apiece.
Mississippi State had its best chance of the early going in the bottom of the second. The home squad earned a one-out single and then advanced to second on a fielding error by the Wildcats. A walk followed and placed two aboard. The runners would shift into scoring position on a ground out to sophomore Emily Jolly at second. Riley ended the threat without allowing any further damage with an inning-ending groundout to Cervantes at third.
Cervantes opened the third with a single into left-center and then Dill singled up the middle. Runners would move to the corners on a fielder’s choice, but an inning-ending double play ended the threat without UK adding to its advantage.
O’Brien opened the fourth by reaching on an error by the home team’s second baseman. She’d shift to second on a masterfully executed sacrifice bunt from sophomore Lauren Cumbess. The inning ended with O’Brien still on second as the Bulldogs made a tremendous diving grab in left field to end the frame.
MSU leadoff the home half of the fourth by reaching on a walk, but Riley and the UK defense stood tall and escaped the inning unscathed. UK’s pitcher was on a stretch of being a part of four of UK’s seven outs over the course of three innings.
Dill moved into scoring position in the top half of the fifth after earning a four-pitch walk and promptly swiping second. The inning would end with her still aboard, with the Wildcats unable to take advantage of the scoring opportunity.
O’Brien got aboard when she was hit with a pitch with one out in the top of the sixth. A sacrifice would move her to second and then sophomore Emily Jolly reached by way of a walk. The inning ended with the runners still aboard and not able to tap home.
Riley worked around a one-out single into center in the home half of the sixth to escape the jam unscathed and send the game into the final frame deadlocked at one.
For the fifth consecutive inning the Wildcats left a runner in scoring position in the seventh. Sophomore Ellen Weaver drew a leadoff walk and the runner would move to second on a sacrifice, but that would be all the further she would be able to advance as the frame closed on a groundout.
In the final at-bat for the Bulldogs the home team had a leadoff single to threaten once again. Riley, however, forced three consecutive outs to escape the inning and move the game into extra frames.
Cumbess drew a two-out walk in the top half of the eighth and pinch runner Ashleigh Gustafson shifted to second on a wild pitch, but the inning ended with a strikeout.
For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK softball season, log on to UKathletics.com.