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Kentucky’s Season Ends in the Super Region

@UKsoftball

It was a good season for the Rachel Lawson and the Cats in 2018 as they finished with a record of 41-20 playing against the second toughest schedule in the nation. Working their way to a 16 seed in the NCAA tournament in the process. But, unfortunately, that good season would come to an end tonight as they ran into the buzzsaw that was Miranda Elish once again.

Elish carried her dominant performance from last night into tonight, as she finished the night with seven strikeouts, one earned run, and four hits in five innings of work. Even though Elish was once again dominant, what killed the Cats was a seven-run 2nd inning, and from there it seemed over.

In the 2nd inning, the Ducks had two home runs, a solo shot from Rhodes and a grand slam from Sanders. Throw in two RBI singles, and you get a disaster inning. The Ducks would score three more in the third to give them a comfortable ten run lead.

In the top half of the next inning, senior Brooklin Hinz would hit a home run to try to will the Wildcats back into the game, but it just wasn’t enough as that would be Kentucky’s only run of the night.

The Ducks would go on to tack on one more in the fourth to beat the Cats 11-1 in five innings and advance to the college world series.

Kentucky just didn’t have it tonight, and it was just the wrong night to have a bad night, but that shouldn’t take away from a spectacular year from the Kentucky softball team. Kentucky will lose three seniors this year; Rachael Metzger, Brooklin Hinz, and Erin Rethlake, who all had great careers and moments at the University of Kentucky. Most notably they were all apart of the only Softball team in school history to go to the world series. They will be Wildcats forever. Salute to those three seniors on great careers at UK, and they will be missed next year.

Next year Kentucky will return a lot, including seven starters. Notably, they will return home run leader Abbey Cheek, batting Average leader Bailey Vick, Standout shortstop Katie Reed, four-hole hitter Alex Martens and two great arms in Grace Baalman and Autumn Humes. Not to mention two freshmen who had great seasons in Mallory Peyton and Lauren Johnson.

While things are gloom right now, there is a lot of optimism that Kentucky will be back and better next year. Salute to you ladies on a great season.

 


Kentucky Softball Playing for WCWS Berth on ESPN

Tune into ESPN now to watch your Kentucky Softball team face off against Oregon in Jane Sanders Stadium in Eugene for a spot in the College Softball World Series.

In an elimination game a quick start will be a major key for the Cats after a rough outing in Game 2.

Let’s go Cats!

@EMitchKSR


@UKsoftball

What To Watch For in Tonight’s Winner Take All Softball Game

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The magnitude of tonight’s game is enormous. With a chance to go to the world series and a season both on the line tonight, there are many components to tonight’s game that will determine the outcome. Whether it’s Oregon’s pitching or Kentucky’s bats prevailing, these will be the keys to tonight’s crucial game three.

1. Kleist or Elish

Tonight Mike White will have a tough decision to face heading into game three, does he start the PAC-12 Pitcher of the Year or does he ride with what worked last night in Miranda Elish. Like I mentioned last night, Kleist’s approach seems to benefit Kentucky more, but after the year she’s had I wouldn’t be surprised if Oregon went with her in game three. I believe the signs are pointing to her starting as well, last night Mike White sent her to the bullpen that way she could see herself throw good pitches ahead of another performance. IF Mike White rolls with Kleist tonight it will be interesting to see if the Cats can elevate the ball more tonight and get some runs on the board, or if they go with Elish again, what type of adjustments will Kentucky make to get on base.

2. How will Kentucky’s Bats Respond?

The Cats’ bats were cooled off last night after looking unstoppable in their first four postseason games, even Abbey Cheek was held at bay. Against a team like Oregon, they have to hit, relying on their pitching staff and defense won’t get it done. Not saying Rethlake can shut this Oregon team down because I believe she is fully capable, but in the first two games of this Super Regional the Ducks have seen all three UK pitchers twice, so they will have a feel of what each pitcher is bringing to the table. They will have to score, and if the top of the lineup can set the tone early for Kentucky, I think the Cats should fair well tonight.

3. How Loose will Kentucky Play?

In game one Kentucky came in with a nothing to lose, us against the world mentality and it worked. From the first pitch, you could see they were confident and had no fear of the Ducks. Last night seemed to be a different story, while they were loose before the game running routes in the outfield when the game started, it looked like Oregon had all the energy, and that would carry throughout the game. If Kentucky comes out unphased and gets the energy going early, I believe it will be a fun night for Rachel Lawson and the Wildcats.

4. Kentucky is Battle Tested

Finally, the most important aspect of tonight’s game, Kentucky is battle tested. Kentucky had the second strongest strength of schedule this season in softball and played in the toughest conference. Kentucky has honestly prepared for this moment all season, and it will be interesting to see if their strength of schedule will benefit them tonight against their toughest opponent yet.

If Kentucky can capitalize on all of these tonight, they will be in good shape to head to the College World Series for the second time in school history. First Pitch is slated for 9 pm ET on ESPN.


@UKsoftball

Kentucky Drops Game Two of Super Regional

@UKsoftball

In game two of the Super Regional from Eugene, the Wildcats tried to keep the success they’ve had so far this postseason into tonight to punch their ticket to Oklahoma City, but Kentucky just couldn’t get anything going tonight offensively as they fall to Oregon 6-1.

Miranda Elish tore right through the Cats tonight, only allowing two hits all night and retiring the first nine batters. Kentucky just couldn’t figure her out. Elish was hitting her sports, primarily the outside corner and Kentucky couldn’t handle it. She also kept the ball on the ground whenever the Cats did put it in play as Kentucky only had two balls leave the infield tonight. Both of those hits coming from Alex Martens who had a SAC fly, which scored Jenny Schaper, and a single tonight. Elish dealt seven strikeouts tonight in the complete game, including five straight between the second and third innings.

Another thing that made Elish so tough to hit tonight was her pitching style. Last night Kentucky dominated Kleist who went with the approach of using the rise ball to her advantage and relying on her stuff more than overpowering the hitters. Kleist’s approach benefited Kentucky’s approach because she always left balls in the wheelhouse which led to a big day for Kentucky. But, with Elish, she was more focused on working down and away, overpowering the hitters and because of that Kentucky couldn’t turn on or lift any pitches. IF Elish goes, game three Kentucky must rely on small ball to deal with Elish’s pitching style.

Coming into tonight’s game, Kentucky was outscoring opponents 38-7 in the postseason, and it came as an unpleasant surprise to not only see the Cats cool off, but to see them get dominated the way they did. I don’t expect Kentucky to be down for long though; there is too much hitting talent in the Kentucky lineup to bounce back tomorrow night.

Oregon, on the other hand, had all things go their way tonight offensively. Although, scoreless through the first three they busted it open in the fourth with a four-run inning, which included a questionable advancement call on an errant throw. The umpires allowed the Oregon runner from 2nd base to advance two bases for a run while only allowing the trailing runner to advance one. Someone still needs to explain that to me.

Nonetheless, the big inning would set the tone for the rest of the game as the Ducks tally for nine hits for six runs to take game two of the Super Regional. Oregon is now 44-1 when scoring four runs or more this season.

Kentucky will play a winner take all game tomorrow night at 9 PM ET on ESPN. The winner gets a trip to the College World Series.


WATCH: Sydney McLaughlin clips hurdle, still qualifies for NCAA Championships

How good is Sydney McLaughlin? The Kentucky track superstar qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships today in the 400m hurdles despite clipping a hurdle in the final stretch:

McLaughlin was the top qualifier in the NCAA East Preliminaries with a time of 55.50 seconds. A few weeks ago, she ran the 400m hurdles in 52.75 seconds, a new collegiate record and the 13th fastest time in the history of the event. Can she beat that in Eugene? I can’t wait to find out.

Watch the entire race below starting around the 1:55 mark:


@UKsoftball

Kentucky Takes Game One in The Super Regional

@UKsoftball

In what was a wild and bizarre game in Eugene, Rachel Lawson and her Wildcats looked to carry the momentum from last weekend’s regional into this weekend to knock off the number one seed Ducks.

To keep the momentum going, they had to look no further than the top of the order, especially from home run leader Abbey Cheek. Tonight, Cheek had two home runs tallying in five RBIs to help push the Cats ahead of the mighty Oregon Ducks 9-6.

Alex Martens got things going for the Cats tonight with a three-run blast in the first inning, ending Oregon’s streak of 30 straight scoreless innings, from then Kentucky didn’t let up. In the 2nd Katie Reed, who went 3-4 on the day, had an RBI single to bring home Erin Rethlake for a 4-0 lead.

The Ducks would soon strike back in the bottom half, and it seemed like the Ducks just wouldn’t go away, cutting the lead to one. Abbey Cheek was right there to answer, though, as she “just got under the ball” and lifted it to center field for a three-run blast to give Kentucky a four-run cushion.

Once again the Ducks would rally across two more runs, cutting the lead to two, and it seemed like things were falling apart a bit for Kentucky. But, Abbey Cheek was prominent once again as she clobbered a ball to left center field for her second home run of the night to give the Cats a comfortable 9-5 lead going into the later innings.

Oregon would end up scoring one more, but that run would be moot as the Cats beat the Ducks 9-6 to take game one of the Super Regionals and only one more game stands between them and Oklahoma City.

Kentucky will play Oregon again tomorrow night at 11 pm ET on ESPN 2 for a chance to go to the College World Series.


UK Softball’s Super Regional run starts NOW on ESPN 2

@UKsoftball/@UKphotogs

The Softball Cats will be in their lucky all blacks as they take on the No. 1 Oregon Ducks in the Super Regional  at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.

It’s a best-of-three series and while UK won’t have the home support it had last week at John Cropp Stadium the Cats are playing as well as any team in the country. Kentucky outscored its opponents 28-1 last week in the Lexington Regional

But the Ducks are the No. 1 overall seed for a reason. Oregon didn’t give up a run last weekend when it defeated Albany and Drake (twice). However, while the Cats put up 28 runs in three games Oregon mustered just 12 and didn’t run rule any of its opponents.

Oregon ended Kentucky’s season in the Super Regional last season but the vindictive Cats are out for revenge and the game starts now.

KSR will have all the details once the game ends and that goes for tomorrow and potentially Saturday, too. Let’s just hope the Cats sweep the Ducks.


Sydney McLaughlin joins Matt Jones on Hey Kentucky!

Sydney McLaughlin joins Matt Jones on Hey Kentucky!

You’ve heard the name Sydney McLaughlin.  Now get to know Kentucky’s world class track star on Hey Kentucky! 

After running in the Olympics, she’s shattering records at UK.  McLaughlin explains why she decided to go to college, what her experience has been like on UK’s campus, and she admits that she’s not the biggest basketball fan.  Watch her conversation with Matt Jones before she competes in the upcoming National Championships.


Three Takeaways from this Weekend for UK Softball

Three Takeaways from this Weekend for UK Softball

What was a special weekend in Lexington resulted in Kentucky sweeping the regionals and outscoring their opponents 28-1. There was a lot to take in after the hectic weekend, but here are three takeaways from a great Regional in Lexington as the Cats head into the super regionals against Oregon.

1. The Pitching Staff Performing at a High-Level

One of the biggest takeaways from this weekend in Lexington was the stellar performance of UK’s pitching staff. Kentucky only threw two pitchers this weekend, senior Erin Rethlake and Freshman Grace Baalman. The two pitchers combined for five hits and no earned runs all weekend. In this tournament, great pitching can take you deep into the postseason, and with these two keeping runners off base and Autumn Hums waiting in the wings as well, this pitching staff should create problems for Oregon next week.

Coach Lawson talking about her pitching staff said, “I felt this weekend I could go to Erin or Grace for sure based on what they’ve done the last few weeks. I even felt comfortable going with Autumn, even though she hasn’t been given an opportunity…I felt great about Erin and going with her moving forward.”

2. The Offense is Dangerous All the Way Through

This weekend Kentucky scored 28 runs in just 16 innings a play, which is a rarity this late into the season, but Kentucky doesn’t produce that many runs if their whole line-up isn’t hitting. One through nine, everyone in the line up is contributing. In the top third of the lineup, Jenny Scharper had 5 RBIs this weekend, and Abbey Cheek had a big double last night, then, the walk-off home run today. While the two-hole hitter, Katie Reed may not have produced a lot of numbers this weekend, she did a lot outside of the box score such as laying down a few sacrifice bunts and working a few walks.

The middle part of the order produced seven RBIs and a home-run for Alex Martens. Mallory Peyton had a massive weekend in the six spot, having four RBIs this weekend and going 5-8. Although Hinz didn’t produce a lot of RBIs this weekend, she was also a good bet to get on base going 5-8, as well, and accounting for several runs.

Then the bottom half saw some production from Lauren Johnson as she drove in a few RBIs this weekend from the seven spot. Although there wasn’t an extreme amount of production from Rethlake and Vick at eight and nine, Metzger stepped in their roles and produced 7 RBIs from the bottom two spots of the lineup.

3. The Kentucky Faithful Showed Out

Of course, the big perk in hosting a regional is the home-field advantage the team can draw from their fans, and the BBN did their part this weekend. After several weather issues and time changes, the Kentucky crowd stayed true, packing John Cropp every game. Even last night’s impressive crowd for a 9:42 start time.

Rachel Lawson said, ” We had such a cool crowd. This is my tenth year now, and we’ve hosted four or five regionals, and we have such a good fan base we have such a good core of fans, and that keeps building and building. This year, more than any year you could feel the stadium. You could feel our team was more energetic and the reason we were more energetic was feeding off such a cool fan base. So, I want to thank them for showing out. That’s what being in the Big Blue Nation is all about.”

Last, but certainly not least, I want to give a massive shout out to the great work of the UK grounds crew making this field look, not just playable, but perfect. They did a stellar job this weekend, and they definitely deserve the gratitude of the BBN.

The Universtiy of Kentucky has made us proud once again, by putting on such a great event.


Credit: Gary Moyers

Kentucky Softball SWEEPS the Region

Credit: Gary Moyers

Today Kentucky beat Notre Dame 8-0, with another stellar performance in all phases of the game. Rethlake had the Fighting Irish’s number all day, only surrendering one hit and allowing three base runners all day. Kentucky’s pitching staff only gave up five hits this weekend and allowed zero earned runs.

Rachael Metzger once again had another big moment in today’s game. After last night’s pinch-hit grand slam, she was once again brought in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded. Although, this time she didn’t hit a grand slam, she did hit a 3 RBI double to put the game out of reach and to give the Cats a 7-0 lead in the fifth.

Alex Martens also played a big role in today’s game as her two-run home run in the 1st inning got thing going for Kentucky in the 1st inning.

Abbey Cheek, who was almost seemingly due for a home run, came up with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. She launched one over the left field wall and off the scoreboard to walk things off in Lexington as the Cats run-ruled the Irish to sweep the regional round to advance to play Oregon in the Super Regionals next weekend for the sixth time in school history.

Oregon is the number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament, so that will be no easy task for the Bat Cats. But, Kentucky is firing on all cylinders, outscoring their opponents 28-1 this weekend. It should be a fun weekend next week to watch Kentucky try to pull a 16 over one upset.


Pinch Hit Grand Slam Helps Kentucky Beat Notre Dame 10-0

Pinch Hit Grand Slam Helps Kentucky Beat Notre Dame 10-0

credit: Jeff Drummond

In a huge role in tonight’s game, Senior catcher Rachael Metzger was put in a very special position to make something happen for the Cats. With one out and the bases loaded in the top of the fourth, Rachel Lawson made the move to pinch hit Metzger for the teams batting average leader, Bailey Vick. Metzger, cold off the bench, launches one over the left field wall for a grand slam (the 2nd UK grand slam today) give Kentucky a 6-0 lead in the third.

Earlier in the game Abbey Cheek came up huge with a two-out double that sent John Cropp Stadium into a frenzy.

Up 2-0 going into the fourth inning, Kentucky busted the game wide open with a six run-inning, thanks to Metzger’s pinch-hit grand slam and two RBI singles from Abbey Cheek and Alex Martens, to give Kentucky an eight-run lead into the fifth.

When asked what went into the decision to pinch hit Metzger, Coach Lawson said, “It was actually a very easy decision, we’ve been working on it all year. We started to set ourselves up for this at the SEC Tournament, and things didn’t go the way we wanted to in the SEC tournament, but it was the stage we needed to be in to prepare us for today. Metzger had her opportunity, and it didn’t go the way she wanted, and I was just really excited. She knew this was going to be her opportunity all along and she made the most of it. It was an easy decision.”

In the fifth Kentucky would plate two more runs to give them a 10-0 lead, that they would hold in the bottom half for a 10-0 final.

One thing to take away from today as a whole is the performance from freshman Mallory Peyton. Peyton was 5-6 with four RBIs in today’s games.

Another take away is the performance from Kentucky’s pitching staff. In the two games today they only allowed four hits total with zero earned runs. Baalman was very economical today, just throwing 58 pitches. 26 of those pitches coming in the first, the freshman was able to settle down in her first career postseason start to shut out the Fighting Irish.

Kentucky will play the winner of Notre Dame and Michigan tomorrow at 2:30 pm to try to lock up a spot in the super regionals. Notre Dame and Michigan play at noon.


@UKsoftball

Kentucky Beats UIC 10-1 in Their First Regional Game

@UKsoftball/@UKphotogs

After 20 hours of waiting, Kentucky finally got their first regional game underway against the UIC Flames this morning. The Cats came out of the gates strong after a two-out rally in the first inning to put the Cats up 3-0 early, with the help of three RBI hits from Senior Brooklyn Hinz, and the two freshmen, Lauren Johnson and Mallory Peyton.

The Cats ended up plating one run until the 5th when they busted the game open with a six-run inning. To start the fifth, Martens reached on an error followed by Hinz reaching on an error.

Mallory Peyton would not leave them stranded as she hit a two-RBI double to give the Cats a five-run lead. Peyton playing in her first NCAA tournament game was 2-3 on the day with 3 RBIs.

After Peyton’s double Kentucky would end up loading the bases for junior catcher Jenny Schaper, who took full advantage of the loaded bases, hitting a grand slam off the scoreboard to end the game in five innings for a Kentucky win.

Erin Rethlake had a stellar game, as well, on the mound. Only giving up two hits, no walks, and no earned runs, it was an impressive win for the senior playing in her last NCAA tournament.

John Cropp Stadium is closed until 5 pm, Michigan is now set to play UIC at 7 pm, and Kentucky vs. Notre Dame is currently set for 9 pm.

Follow at @BrentW_KSR or @UKsoftball for more game-time updates.


@UKsoftball

Kentucky Regional Softball Game Postponed to Tomorrow

Kentucky’s first game of the NCAA Tournament has been postponed until tomorrow, after being scheduled for first pitch at 2:30 today.

This was the scene from John Cropp Stadium.

Kentucky’s start time tomorrow is still TBA as of now, but the first pitch will likely be set for in the morning.

Weather-permitting, the Cats will play at least two games tomorrow, with the first coming against UIC.

If they win, they will face Notre Dame, and if they lose, they will face Michigan.

No game times for tomorrow have been confirmed.

UPDATE

The first pitch between Kentucky and UIC is set for 10:00 am ET tomorrow.

Be wary of rain if you are headed to John Cropp Stadium tomorrow, the forecast still shows lots of storms in the area. Game delays tomorrow are very likely.

Follow @BrentW_KSR or @UKsoftball for more updates.


@ukathletics

Softball Regionals Day 1: Kentucky vs. Illinois-Chicago

@ukathletics

The Kentucky softball team begins post-season play today and will host the first round of the NCAA Tournament at their own John Cropp Stadium. The Cats’ first pitch is set for 2:30.

Whether you’re a die-hard fan or a softball newbie, this weekend’s action offers an exciting opportunity to watch the Cats perform in the post-season. Here’s what you need to know about today’s matchup:

The Basics

No. 16 UK (31-19) will face the University of Illinois-Chicago (33-19) in the first round. The Flames earned an automatic tournament bid after winning the Horizon League Championship title for the second-consecutive season, while the Cats earned a national seed for the third-straight year.

It’s a double-elimination regional; Michigan and Notre Dame are also in Lexington for their first-round games. Notre Dame was among the last four teams in the tournament, but Michigan boasts the seventh-best ERA in the country.

Action started across the 16 regions yesterday with a total of 64 teams in the bracket. By Monday, only 16 teams will remain.

Players to Watch

Kentucky:

Several Wildcats are entering the tournament after collecting SEC honors late in the regular season. Shortstop Katie Reed was named to the All-SEC Second Team and the All-Defensive Team, while also taking home the award for 2018 SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year. Pitcher Grace Baalman was named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. Freshman infielder and Madisonville-native Mallory Peyton was named the SEC Freshman of the Week in early May. Also keep an eye out for junior third baseman Abbey Cheek.

Bailey Vick, a sophomore from Paducah, has also racked up awards for the Wildcats. She was named to the 2018 National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association All-South Region Team and the Academic All-Distrcit Team. Last season she was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team and the All-SEC District Team. She is hitting over .370 and leads the Wildcats in hits and on-base percentage.

UIC:

The Flames have four batters hitting above .300 on the season: Lexi Watts (.445), Kayla Wedl (.350), Taylor Cairns (.327) and Skylee James (.312). James and Wedl are also the top two run producers in their conference, with 49 and 36 RBIs, respectively.

Sophomore Allie Trudeau earned UIC’s top-pitching spot, boasting the conference’s third-lowest ERA at 2.51


If you’re looking for something fun to do this afternoon or throughout the remainder of the weekend, make the trip to John Cropp Stadium to cheer on the Cats. Here’s the weekend’s schedule:

If you’re not able to make it to Lexington, don’t worry! I’ll have all of today’s updates for you right here, and you can follow along on Twitter: @MaggieDavisKSR. Go Cats!


UK Golf holes out for eagle on 18, punches NCAA championship ticket

@UKMensGolf

Kentucky senior golfer Chip McDaniel sank a 118-yard approach shot on the 18th hole to record a walk-off eagle in the final round of the Bryan Regional. The shot came after McDaniel’s 326-yard drive on the 444-yard, par-four 18th, and it punched UK’s ticket to the NCAA championship for only the 10th time in school history.

The Wildcats entered the day down 10 strokes and in need of a special day to advance. The team fired a 3-under final round to jump Ole Miss on the scoreboard by three strokes, concluding with McDaniel’s eagle when he only needed a par to seal his team’s fate. The UK senior shot a 31 on the back after a disappointing 40 before the turn.

Unfortunately there is no video of the shot (that I know of), but we do have the Golf Channel’s coverage of the event.