UK softball falls to Georgia

By David Schuh

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The stage was set. An eight-game win streak, first place in the Southeastern Conference East, and the highest national ranking in school history. Juniors Chanda Bell and Rachel Riley had just thrown the second and third perfect games in school history (on the same day).

In comes No. 2 Georgia. Boasting one of the most powerful offenses in the country, the Bulldogs had won nine of their last 11, riding an undefeated record at home.

Things didn’t go as planned for the Cats.

The UK softball team returned to Lexington Sunday night after being swept by Georgia. They were outscored 23-5 in the three games, failing to string together timely hits to keep pace with the Bulldogs. The Cats had opportunities on offense, but largely failed to capitalize, leaving 20 runners on base over the three games.

“The top of our order remained pretty strong, but we just didn’t get the same production from the entire lineup,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “Georgia’s pitchers had a large part in that. They did a great job of containing our big hitters.”

The UK pitchers, however, struggled for the majority of the series. Georgia was able to collect double-digit hits in all three games, including an 18-hit effort in Sunday’s 9-1, six-inning finish. Defensive lapses also had an effect, mainly on Saturday when the Cats committed three errors to help fuel Georgia’s rallies.

The lone bright spot came Saturday, when the Cats recorded 10 hits and three runs, led by two-hit games from Brittany Cervantes and Kara Dill. An RBI-single by Cervantes highlighted a two-run top of the first for UK, only to be answered by four in the bottom of the inning and two more in the third by UGA to blow the game open for good.

The focus now turns to the future for the Cats, a future that appears much brighter with 10 out of the next 11 games against teams ranked outside the top 50. And with six tough conference games remaining before the start of the postseason, the team hopes to regain the momentum that was interrupted in Athens, Ga., last weekend.

“We have a very resilient team,” Lawson said. “My expectation is that we will learn from this. Georgia did a good job of exposing some of our weaknesses and these upcoming nonconference games gives us an opportunity to work on those a little more.”Ka