UK softball struggles in circle, drops series to Georgia



By Chandler Howard

In a season littered with highlights and broken records, the UK softball program found itself gasping for air in its most recent outing.

Georgia’s power at the plate overwhelmed the Cats 17-5 on Sunday. The Bulldogs registered 14 hits, giving them the most runs scored and most hits against UK in any game this season. UK (20-14, 5-8 Southeastern Conference) squared off in a three-game home series with the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs (24-6, 5-4 SEC) this weekend.

UK used a total of three pitchers and 11 batters in an attempt to slow down the Bulldogs, but to no prevail.

“Georgia is obviously a very good team at the plate,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “We did a poor job of keeping them off balance and focusing on their weaknesses.”

The Cats found themselves down early when pitcher Rachel Riley allowed three runs on four hits in the first inning. UK was unable to find its rhythm in the circle throughout the game. Sophomore pitcher Chanda Bell entered as pitcher in the top of the second inning after the Cats were unable to get into an offensive stride.

Georgia pushed the lead to 5-0 by the end of the second inning after Bell allowed a two-run homerun to Bulldog left fielder Megan Wiggins.

A glimpse of offense for UK was seen in the bottom of the third inning. After junior catcher Megan Yocke, senior second baseman Natalie Smith and senior shortstop Molly Johnson were each able to reach base, sophomore third baseman Brittany Cervantes blasted a grand slam over the wall in left-center.

“Brittany can be such a dominant hitter at any point in a game,” Lawson said. “Following that, we had a chance to come back. We just couldn’t stop their hitters.”

The top of the fourth inning showed the third pitching change for UK as senior pitcher Amber Matousek substituted in for Bell. In the same inning, the Cats gave up 10 runs on seven hits, moving the score to 17-5. UK could not produce the offense to mount a comeback.

Despite holding Georgia to no hits through the bottom of the fifth inning, the game ended based on a scoring rule.

Cervantes, who smashed the grand slam, led UK. Sophomore pitcher Riley received the loss for the Cats, though each pitcher struggled. Her record dropped to 6-5. Georgia followed the leadership of Wiggins, who went 3-4 with 4 RBI.

Saturday’s games proved to be the closer of the series, each team winning one game 4-2. After losing the first, the Cats claimed the second game on a seventh inning walk-off homerun by first baseman Samantha DeMartine.

The Cats now look forward in their season, attempting to quickly forget the loss.

“Keeping focus is not a problem for our team,” Lawson said. “We know our end goal. We are going to take the good things away from this game and push forward toward those goals.”