Late offense serves UK softball on Senior Day

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

No. 18 UK softball took the field Saturday for the second game in their series with No. 4 Texas A&M.  The Aggies took the first game of the series by a score of 4-2, but the Cats were optimistic about their chances on senior day.

They took that confidence and ran up the score at the end of the game against their SEC opponent, taking the game 7-2. UK scored all seven runs in the 5th and 6th innings.

The Cats were saying goodbye to three seniors, who all had a hand in the big win, and put away a top-five school for the second time in the month of April.

Shannon Smith started the game pitching, earning a strikeout before she was substituted out of the circle for the team’s star pitcher, senior Meagan Prince. Prince then proceeded to only allow one hit during the final five innings of the game, helping a UK defense that shut down one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.

“I think this is my most memorable win,” said Prince. “For us to come from behind like that, that’s a big deal for us.”

The Cats stayed competitive the entire game, helped by a few expert defensive plays. The most exciting of these was a double play in the 1st inning by first baseman Erin Rethlake, as she dove to catch a ball at first base, and flipped the ball quickly to the base where Alex Martens was waiting to tag the second runner out.

“There was a play made here by Macy Steed that went down as my favorite play ever on this field, and I think that one (Rethlake’s play) surpassed it,” said UK head coach Rachel Lawson

After all this, however, the real star of the game was senior right fielder Breanne Ray, affectionately known as “Buzz” by all her teammates.

She knocked in 3 RBI on one hit, accounting for almost half of the Cats’ runs. She made the key play of the game, a single to right field that pushed two UK runners home to give UK their first lead of the game in the 5th inning.

“It started to hit, you know, this is the last go around,” Ray said. “So you’ve got to leave everything out on the field.

Coach Lawson had nothing but praise for her senior outfielder.

“She just seems so calm in the box, you look at her, and you see she’s always got a shot to hit the ball really hard,” Lawson said. “I think it’s her calm and her presence, and because of that, she’s letting the game come to her.”

The Cats will have a shot at winning the series against the Aggies on Sunday at 1 p.m.