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Joiner, O’Brien Lead Wildcats to a Sweep of Ole MIss

OXFORD, Miss. – For the fifth consecutive time the Kentucky softball team has captured a series from Ole Miss with a doubleheader sweep in Oxford, Miss., on Wednesday evening. The Wildcats claimed a 3-1 win in the opening game before earning an 8-0 (5) win to cap off the night. Freshman Griffin Joiner and junior Alice O’Brien led the bats for the Blue and White with a combined seven hits and six RBI.

With the pair of wins the Wildcats push their record to 23-23 overall and 10-9 in Southeastern Conference action. Ole Miss falls to 16-26 and 3-16 in league play. Both of UK’s senior pitchers picked up wins with Chanda Bell going the distance in the opening contest and Rachel Riley capturing the second win.

Kentucky jumped out to an early advantage in the second contest plating three opening-inning scores to break open the game early.

Senior Brittany Cervantes began the game by drawing a full-count walk. Junior Kara Dill began the hitting rally with a single up the middle to place two aboard. Riley then found a hole in left-center to load the bases. Sophomore Lauren Cumbess delivered the first RBI-single when she found a spot in right field. Joiner notched the fourth consecutive hit for UK with a single into shallow center for the inning’s second tally. The last run would come home on an O’Brien RBI-single that also found a spot in right field for the early 3-0 advantage in favor of the visitors.

The Wildcats tapped home twice more in the top of the second to stretch the lead to 5-0. Cervantes opened the stanza with a solo homer over the right-center fence marking the seventh long ball in her last 10 outings.

Following a pair of lineouts, Cumbess notched a walk to keep the inning alive before Joiner sliced a double into left-center. With runners in scoring position, sophomore Emily Jolly loaded the bases with another walk. O’Brien then delivered an infield RBI-single for the inning’s second tally. A fly-out to deep left ended the stanza without UK adding to the lead any more.

Kentucky added to the lead with a trio of scores in the top of the fourth. Riley reached base by way of an error on the right fielder to get the lead runner aboard. Cumbess then dew her second consecutive walk. Joiner kept her hot-hitting day going with a double that dipped over the center fielder’s head to score pinch runner Sarah Frazer. Cumbess would tap home when Ole Miss’ shortstop tossed an errant throw home while Joiner would shift another bag on the play. UK’s freshman would score the final tally of the frame when she scooted home on a wild pitch moving Kentucky’s lead to a comfortable 8-0 advantage.

Trailing by one in the opening game, Kentucky struck for a pair of two-out runs in the visitor’s side of the fifth. Cervantes got things rolling with a double that nicked the top of the left-center fence. Dill followed with a hit that dipped into shallow left field and Cervantes came home to score on the play, while Dill shifted to second. Riley delivered an RBI single through the left side for the second run of the frame while lifting UK to a 2-1 edge.

UK plated an insurance run in the top half of the seventh to stretch the lead to 3-1. Dill reached with a one-out walk and promptly stole second. She shifted to third on a groundout to short before O’Brien sliced an RBI single into left-center for the tally.

Ole Miss jumped out in front in the home half of the first when the Rebels notched an inside the park home run to take an early 1-0 lead.

The Wildcats had a pair of defensive gems in the home half of the sixth to preserve their one-run edge. After a leadoff single opened the inning, Bell struck out the next batter she faced. During the ensuing at-bat a runner attempted to swipe second, but the Wildcats were not fooled and came up with the out. The final out came with a chopper to Jolly at second and then a terrific scoop for the out from Cumbess to end the threat.

In a last-ditch comeback effort the Rebels garnered a one-out infield single in the bottom of the seventh. The runner shifted to second on a groundout to Cervantes at third, and Bell struck out the sixth batter of the game for the winning-out.

Kentucky resumes action with a three-game series at Mississippi State beginning on Friday with a 6 p.m. ET first pitch. The second game of the series is set for 1 p.m. ET and will air live on ESPNU. The final game of the series is set for a 2 p.m. ET start.


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