UK softball suffers comeback elimination loss to Oregon


The Kentucky Wildcats celebrate their victory of the Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium on Sunday, May 21, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

With their backs against the wall, the UK softball team played what would be their final game of the season in the Eugene Super Regional, hoping to stave off elimination and preserve their season.

In a high-flying matchup between the Cats and the No. 3 seeded Oregon Ducks, UK barely fell short, losing 6-5 after allowing four runs from the Ducks in the final inning.

If someone wouldn’t have watched Oregon’s explosive seventh inning, they’d think the game was already won for the Cats. The Cats opened the game with two quick runs, thanks to a RBI double by freshman Alex Martens.

Shortly after, UK added on another run in the fourth inning after a solo homerun from Abbey Cheek.

Oregon would eventually make a push in the fifth, notching two runs, but two athletic plays from the Cats’ shortstop Katie Reed held the Ducks at bay. Then, in the bottom of the inning, UK matched Oregon’s two runs with two of their own, and they took hold of the game.

At the end of the sixth, UK led 5-2, and both offense and defense were holding together marvelously. Reed was making consecutive highlight plays, and it looked as if the Cats defense would suppress the explosive Ducks, a team on a 14-game win streak.

Then, disaster occurred.

All game, starting pitcher Erin Rethlake was struggling with throwing strikes. She’d finish with five walked batters before being pulled from the game for senior ace Meagan Prince when the Ducks loaded the bases.

The Ducks power lineup of Danica Mercado, Alexis Mack, and Gwen Svekis tore the Cats’ defense apart, as Prince tried to throw strikes without letting the red-hot batters get breathing room.

The Ducks would notch four runs from four hits at the top of the seventh, the first of which came on an illegal pitch call on Prince.

UK was only able to stop the bleeding once the Ducks were ahead. They had one more shot in the bottom of the final inning to hold off elimination and preserve the careers of their three seniors for at least one more game.

From the momentum of the big offensive surge in the top of the inning, the Ducks’ defense in the bottom of the inning was just as good. Freshman pitcher Miranda Elish struck out the first two batters, and Martens ended the game by grounding out to third base.

Oregon advances to the Women’s College World Series, and the Cats will end their unexpectedly magical season with a final record of 39-19.