Cats thrash Gamecocks 8-0, sweep first SEC series


at the women’s softball game vs the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, April 10, 2010. Photo by Britney McIntosh

By Chandler Howard

The UK Softball Complex may have never seen a prouder series than it did this weekend.

UK (25-16, 10-9 Southeastern Conference) triumphed over South Carolina (10-30, 0-19 SEC) on Sunday, completing a series sweep over its conference opponent.

UK came out of the dugout looking for offense. Senior shortstop Molly Johnson, senior second baseman Natalie Smith and junior catcher Megan Yocke each reached base with no outs to begin the bottom of the first inning. Junior first baseman Samantha DeMartine then singled to the left side of the field, scoring Johnson and Smith, pushing the Cats up 2-0 early.

Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell made quick work of the Gamecocks to begin the second inning, striking out three batters in a row. UK found more offensive production in the home half of the second inning when senior right fielder Destinee Mordecai pounded a ball over the left-centerfield wall. Johnson was also able to score a run later in the inning on a double off the bat of Smith, moving UK up 4-0.

The Cats continued to roll in the bottom of the third inning. Junior center fielder Meagan Aull homered a pitch from South Carolina’s April Borchardt to right field. Junior left fielder Annie Rowlands scored freshman Kara Dill on a lined single. Rowlands also reached home on a double by Smith. The Cats towered 7-0 over the Gamecocks.

After an additional run by Aull in the fourth inning, the game ended based on a scoring rule in the middle of the fifth inning.

Smith, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs, led UK offensively. Pitching ace, Bell recorded only one hit and ten strikeouts through only five innings on the day.  Her record is now 14-8.

“(Bell) has grown up so much in about two or three weeks,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “She is turning into a big-time pitcher. She was always very good but now she is able to get huge outs in crucial situations.”

The opening two games of the series went much like Sunday’s competition. The Cats won 11-3 in a shortened contest in the first game on Saturday. The most notable play of the day was a grand slam off the bat of Yocke. UK’s 11 runs was a season high. The second game was closer throughout, but the Cats were able to come up with a 4-3 victory following a two-run sixth inning.

Bell struck out nine batters in the 11-3 win to advance her season total to 218, breaking her own school record from last season of 216.

The series sweep over South Carolina was the first sweep over a conference opponent for the Cats.

“This series was especially important for us to prepare for post-season play,” Bell said. “It is great to know that we are able to come out and compete with other teams from around the SEC.”