Cats defeat Virgina Tech, advance to regional final

Junior second baseman Krystal Smith fields the ball during the UK vs. Virginia Tech softball game in the NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Junior second baseman Krystal Smith fields the ball during the UK vs. Virginia Tech softball game in the NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Ky., on Saturday, May 18, 2013. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

By Tyler Spanyer | @KernelSpanyer

tspanyer@kykernel.com

After winning in extra innings on Friday, No. 12 seed UK used a two-RBI performance from junior second baseman Krystal Smith and a two-run homerun from junior Lauren Cumbess to beat Virginia Tech on Saturday.

The win sees the Cats advance into Sunday’s final of the NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional.

“I was just very patient today,” Smith said. “If that ball isn’t flying out, (UK head coach Rachel Lawson) isn’t happy,” she said.

Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley yielded one hit Virginia Tech’s batters in the 6-2 win at John Cropp Stadium.

“I was really confident today, and I got a lot of help from my defense today,” Nunley said.

UK (40-18, 13-11 SEC) opened the scoring early with a two-run shot from the bat of Cumbess that flew over the left field fence.

Virginia Tech evened the score in the bottom of the second after a bobbled ball by freshman shortstop Christian Stokes resulted in a two-run single.

The hit was originally scored an error, but was changed by the official scorekeeper after further review.

In the third inning freshman center fielder Sylver Samuel scored after a throwing error allowed her to reclaim the lead for the Cats.

Smith hit a solo-blast onto the top of the batting cages in left field to extend UK’s lead in the fourth.

In the fifth, UK got another boost from Smith as her two-out single led to two more runs on another error by Virginia Tech.

After the Hokies scored the two runs in the second inning, Nunley retired the next 16 batters making the controversial hit call in the second inning even more important as it took away a no-hitter from first-year pitcher.

“I think it was clearly an error, but I get in trouble all the time for saying stuff like that,” Lawson said. “I am not worried though because we got the win and that’s all that matters.”

UK will meet the Hokies again on Sunday in the regional final.

Virginia Tech defeated Marshall in 13 innings in Saturday’s elimination game to earn the right to play UK for the second successive day.

The game gets under way at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN 3.

Follow @KernelSpanyer on Twitter for live updates from John Cropp Stadium.