TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Kentucky softball team plated three scores in the top of the seventh, but the late-game rally was not enough to overcome a six-run Georgia lead to fall 6-4 in the quarterfinal matchup of the SEC Tournament on Thursday evening in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Wildcats rallied for a trio of scores in their final at-bat and senior Brittany Cervantes hit a solo homer in the fourth frame to help bridge the gap.
With the loss, Kentucky falls to 29-28 overall on the season but will be eligible for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The 11th ranked Bulldogs improve to 41-14 on the season. Cervantes and junior Alice O’Brien led the bats with a pair of hits apiece.
In a last ditch comeback effort, senior Rachel Riley began the top half of the seventh by splitting the left side. Freshman Griffin Joiner followed suit with a single through the left side and the runners would shift on a passed ball. O’Brien delivered her second hit of the game with a slicing double into the right-center gap to plate the first two runs.
Following a groundout to third, sophomore Ginny Carroll kept the rally going by reaching on a fielding error by the third baseman. Georgia’s left fielder made a tremendous diving snag to rob the Wildcats of another hit and shifting the runners for the second out of the frame. The second passed ball of the inning enabled the runners to advance into scoring position. Sophomore Emily Jolly then smacked a single to the third baseman to score O’Brien and leave runners on first and second with two outs and UK down by two runs. Cervantes singled to third base to load the bases, but a groundout to the second baseman ended the inning with the rally falling just short.
With the Wildcats trailing 6-0, Cervantes opened the top half of the fourth by unloading on a pitch and drilling it over the center field wall to bridge the gap to 6-1. The round tripper was the 13th of the season for UK’s senior.
Georgia took an early 2-0 lead with a pair of tallies in the home half of the first. A two-out single into shallow right-center followed by a hit by pitch placed two aboard. Ashley Razey then drove in the runners with a double into the left-center gap.
The Bulldogs then tacked on four more scores in the bottom of the second. The designated home squad brought in the first score thanks to a sac fly before All-SEC performer Kristyn Sandberg connected for a three-run homer to extend the lead to 6-0.
O’Brien opened the fifth with a single through the right side, but UK could not advance the runner ending the frame with the junior still aboard.
Kentucky escaped a pair of jams in the fourth and sixth by turning two spectacular double-plays to prevent further damage.
UK will now await its fate for an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats have advanced in each of the previous three seasons as an at-large candidate. Kentucky is eligible with an above .500 record and an RPI in the top 30. The selection show will air live on ESPNU at 10 p.m. ET on Sunday night.
Complete coverage of the Kentucky softball team can be found at UKathletics.com.