STARKVILLE, Miss. – Despite a pair of doubles from junior Alice O’Brien and a two-run homer from sophomore Ellen Weaver the Kentucky softball team dropped a 4-3 contest to Mississippi State in the series opener on Friday night in Starkville, Miss. O’Brien has now produced two consecutive games with a pair of hits. Weaver drilled a two-run homer in the third to give the Wildcats an early lead. It marked the second long ball of the season for the second-year player.
With the loss Kentucky falls to 23-24 on the season and 10-10 in Southeastern Conference action. Mississippi State improves to 26-19 and 9-14 in league play.
The teams will resume the series with a 1 p.m. ET start in a game that will air live on ESPNU with Cara Capuano and Cheri Kempf calling the action.
Trailing by one headed into the last at-bat of the game, the Wildcats placed a runner in scoring position when O’Brien doubled into left field with one out in the frame. Kentucky could not push the run across leaving her stranded with consecutive outs.
Freshman Kara Howard opened the third by earning a leadoff hit that dipped just over the shortstop’s head to get a runner aboard. Weaver then smoked a well-hit ball over the center field fence to plate to two scores and lift Kentucky to the early 2-0 advantage.
The home squad evened things up with a pair of tallies in the home half of third. Mississippi State began the inning with a double and then benefited from three consecutive walks before a fielder’s choice scored the second run of the frame.
Mississippi State jumped out in front by a 4-2 margin with two scores in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Bulldogs singled to open the inning and then benefited from a walk to place two aboard. A sacrifice shifted the runners into scoring position and a double would bring both home.
Kentucky immediately responded with a score of its own in the top of the sixth. Junior Kara Dill tripled for the fifth time this season to open the inning with a well-hit ball over the right fielder’s head. Senior Rachel Riley would bring in the run with a sacrifice to bridge the gap to 4-3 in favor of the home team.
The Bulldogs loaded the bags in the home half of the first with just one out to threaten first. Senior Chanda Bell induced a pop-up to senior Brittany Cervantes at third before striking out the final batter to get out of the jam.
Freshman Griffin Joiner doubled into center field with one out in the second and would scoot all the way to third on a wild pitch, but the Wildcats would leave her aboard in their first scoring opportunity of the game. It marked the third double for the freshman in UK’s last two games.
Kentucky had a chance again in the fifth when O’Brien doubled to open the fifth frame. She’d move to third on a groundout and the Wildcats could not convert the opportunity.
For continuing coverage of the 2012 UK softball season, log on to UKathletics.com.