UK softball finishes Mississippi State off in extra innings to avoid sweep


Kentucky Wildcats infielder Alex Martens throws the ball to first in the first inning of the game against the Florida Gators at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday, April 15, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

On Sunday, the UK softball team sought to overcome a surprisingly tough Mississippi State team in the series finale after the Bulldogs clinched the series with a two-run victory on Saturday. Mississippi State gave the Cats all they could handle, but UK beat the Bulldogs 10-7 in extra innings.

The Cats came out of the gate strong, an unusual statement for this comeback-prone UK team. They scored three runs at the top of the first inning, forcing the Bulldogs to play from behind, something they barely managed to overcome.

The top three batters of the UK batting order was the reason why the Cats were able to jump out to such a lead so quickly as they combined for six runs, four hits, two RBI, and a homerun.

Most of this was offense contributed by leftfielder Brooklin Hinz, who has recently taken over freshman star Bailey Vick’s spot in left field, while Vick has taken the DP spot from Hinz. Hinz racked up two RBI on two hits in the game, including a solo homerun in the fifth inning.

UK head coach Rachel Lawson has repeatedly said that the keys to the success for this UK team are timely hits and a sense of urgency. The Cats took the latter message to heart in this game in the form of three stolen bases in the first inning, and found that the rest of the game came to them far easier when they played with a cushion of three runs.

Two of those three steals came from Vick, a key player in the victories over No. 4 Texas A&M.

Shortstop Katie Reed has been on a tear of her own, getting two runs of her own in the game. Returning to her usual spot as the leadoff batter for the Cats, she scored the first run of the game by stealing home base, making a very aggressive return to her position in the rotation.

However, all this fell apart as the Bulldogs tore through the UK defense in the bottom of the seventh inning, as UK pitcher Meagan Prince hit a batter with a pitch while the bases were loaded, and then walked two more to give the Bulldogs a tie game.

The game would be prolonged for four more innings, until Alex Martens hit a 2 RBI double that vaulted the Cats over Mississippi State for the final time. Catcher Jenny Schaper also added a RBI single in the inning to give UK their final three-run advantage.

This game ended the regular season for UK, and next week they’ll head to Knoxville to compete in the SEC Tournament. They’ll have to perform well in the tournament to redeem their status as a national competitor, after losing the series to the unranked Bulldogs. A chance to host a regional round matchup of the NCAA tournament hangs in the balance.