UK softball gets off to shaky start in opening weekend


UK freshman pitcher, 5, Meagan Prince winding up for a pitch during the UK softball game vs. Auburn at the John Cropp Stadium on Sunday, March 30, 2014, in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Kalyn Bradford

Chase Campbell

UK fans knew the softball team was young and different from years past, but they didn’t expect the No. 20 Cats to drop two in a row to an unranked team, and start the season 3-2.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened during Kentucky’s five-game series in Orlando, Fla. that began Friday.

The weekend began with a convincing 4-2 win against Florida A&M, with three of the Cats’ four runs coming in the final inning of play. The lone scoring freshman, second baseman Alex Martens, went 2-4 batting and had two RBI.

After the close win against Florida A&M, however, the Cats started to slip. They finished Friday with a tough 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh, getting only five hits in the game, half of what they got against Florida A&M. Pitcher Meagan Prince gave a valiant effort, however, with 10 strikeouts, holding the Panthers to six hits.

To start Saturday, the Cats struggled even further, losing to Pittsburgh again, this time by a 6-3 final. UK only gave up six hits in the game, but the Cats gave up several big plays in the fourth inning, allowing four runs. The young UK team, at this point, was 1-2 and in need of a little redemption in Central Florida to still start the season strong.

UK found that redemption in a strong 6-3 win against UCF on its home field. Freshman infielder Kierston Moore found her spark, with 3 RBI, a homerun and going 2-2 at bat. The Cats got a season high 11 hits, with the team hitting at a combined .407 rate, while holding the Knights to a .181 average at bat. Meagan Prince continued her strong play, with seven strikeouts, but this time, she was granted the win.

To end the weekend, the Cats played their second game against Florida A&M, shutting them out 3-0. While they did shut out the Rattlers, it wasn’t as pretty as it likely should’ve been. It was an extremely defensive game, with both teams combining for only eight hits and six strikeouts. Florida A&M is now 0-5, and UK finished the weekend with a winning record at 3-2.

It’ll be known if the Cats worked out the kinks on Wednesday, as they’ll take on No. 8 UCLA in Los Angeles, starting a full weekend in California. During this stretch, they’ll have to play the Bruins twice and also No. 9 Oregon.