UK softball falters as Tennessee completes series sweep


Kentucky Wildcats right fielder Breanne Ray hits a single during the second inning of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at John Cropp Stadium on Friday, April 7, 2017 in Lexington, KY. Photo by Addison Coffey | Staff.

Chase Campbell

Sunday completed Tennessee’s first road sweep since the 2015 season, as the Volunteers defeated the UK softball team 9-4, blemishing the Cats’ perfect 8-0 home record with three straight losses over the weekend.

The first, a 9-0 blowout by the Volunteers, showed just how many flaws the Cats have on defense. Tennessee manhandled UK without the ball ever leaving the infield, as well as only letting the Cats get two hits in, half the number of errors they got. The mercy rule came into effect, and the game promptly ended in just five innings, bringing UK’s home win streak to a humiliating end.

The second matchup was much more even, going the full seven innings, and was the lowest scoring game of the weekend, going to the Volunteers 5-2. UK’s lone scorer was Abbey Cheek, as she drilled a two-run homerun over centerfield to put the Cats on the board for the first time all weekend. The inability to generate offense past that point was what killed UK, as they ended up leaving six runners on base in the game. However, the defense vastly improved, forcing the Volunteers to strand nine of their own runners on base in the game.

The third competition opened up with a blistering grand slam by Scarlet McSwain of Tennessee, three instances in which the bases were loaded, and warnings for both coaches – before the end of the first inning. The 3-hour and 14-minute affair saw no shortage of offense, carried by five RBI from McSwain, which included her first inning grand slam.

Sunday’s matchup also saw the best of UK’s offense, as they loaded the bases twice, while senior DP Breanne Ray notched four of her now 14 seasons RBI. Shortstop Katie Reed also carved up the Tennessee defense, batting .750 on the day, frequently getting on base.

“If you just trust the process, and trust what you’re doing in practice, it’s eventually going to pay off,” said Ray. “I just knew if I kept the course, if I stayed that course, it was all going to work out for me.”

Both Ray and Reed valued the importance of improving each game, as well.

“I think what we can take from this, is even though we didn’t get the results we wanted, we were able to get better each game,” said Reed.

The Cats will go through a gauntlet in the coming week, playing an athletic Marshall team that leads the NCAA in stolen bases on Tuesday, and then traveling to Louisville to face their in-state rival on Wednesday. After those two games, the Cats come back home Friday to start their weekend series with SEC powerhouse No. 3 Florida.

“You just have to perform every single day in the SEC, or things like this happen, and I think [the freshmen] see that now.” Ray, a senior, commented. “We’re still ready, we’re still good.”