Underclassmen and Prince excel as UK softball advances to regional final

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Meagan Prince celebrates with catcher Jenny Schaper after the first inning of game two of the Lexington Regional at John Cropp Stadium on Friday, May 19, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

Second baseman Alex Martens has never played in an NCAA tournament before. However, on Saturday, she proved that her lack of postseason experience doesn’t hinder her as she took over the defensive battle against Illinois.

She was key in the defensive 1-0 victory, notching two hits that each gave the Cats a lot of momentum on the field.

“Alex is a winner,” said UK head coach Rachel Lawson. “She was recruited as a winner; I’m not surprised that she’s getting hits right now in the postseason.”

Martens went 2-2 in the batter’s box today, being the only UK player to get multiple hits in a game where both offenses struggled mightily.

First Team All-SEC shortstop Katie Reed was the only other UK player to get a hit today, and was immediately caught stealing a base after her hit to open the game.

While none of Martens’ hits produced runs for the Cats, they were examples of offense from the younger players from UK. The other starting freshman, Bailey Vick, scored the lone run for UK off Breanne Ray’s RBI.

One UK player that did excel the entire game, however, was pitcher Meagan Prince. She didn’t allow an Illinois runner on base after the third inning in the shutout, while also netting three strikeouts.

“I think it was one of my better performances,” Prince said after the game. “I felt sharp, I felt loose on the mound.”

The Cats now advance to play in the regional final Sunday, where they’ll be looking to advance to Super Regionals. The winner of the game 5 on Saturday will face the Cats.

As for who that team will be, Lawson was entirely unsure.

“I have no idea, you know, I think Illinois is super tough. I think that they played a great game. Marshall really impressed me yesterday, you know, we watch them a lot on video,” Lawson said. “I think that their short game is about as good as anybody in the country.”

If the Cats win tomorrow at noon, they’ll advance to Super Regionals for the third time in four years, where they’ll face the winner of the regional round in Eugene, Oregon.