UK softball suffers SEC Tournament loss at hands of Auburn

Chase Campbell

A struggle of defensive teams took place in Knoxville Thursday as the seventh-seeded UK softball took on the second-seeded Auburn Tigers, seeking to advance to the SEC Tournament semifinals. The Tigers took the win in a nail-biter, squeezing out a 2-0 victory.

As anticipated, the match was a tale of two elite defenses. While there were only six strikeouts in the game between the two teams, there was only one error (committed by Erin Rethlake for the Cats) and one scoring play.

These two elite teams gave each other expert defensive performances, but a 2 RBI homerun by the Tigers first baseman Kendall Veach in the bottom of the sixth inning sealed the game’s fate.

The Cats doubled Auburn’s hits, but the elite Tigers’ defense prevented UK from gaining the momentum they are used to when the scoring begins.

UK’s All-SEC shortstop Katie Reed had a vastly improved game from her last 0-4 performance against South Carolina, leading the Cats with two hits on three at-bats, a statistic matched by red-hot Brooklin Hinz, who has seen a spike in her offensive production and will give opponents trouble in the NCAA Tournament if her high-energy play continues.

Rethlake also threw a complete game, only allowing three hits. Unfortunately for the UK defense, one of those hits was Veach’s homerun that ended their SEC Tournament run.

The stakes for this game couldn’t have been higher for the Cats, as they were fighting for a chance to host a matchup in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament. This honor is given to the top 16 teams in the nation, and as UK sits at No. 18, a win against a top 10 conference team would nearly ensure their place in Lexington for the regional round of the NCAA Tournament.

All the Cats can do now is wait, as the NCAA selection committee decides their fate. The NCAA Softball Selection Show will air on May 14 at 10 p.m. on ESPN2, where UK’s softball team will find out if they’ve done enough to secure a round of tournament matchups in Lexington.