BOCA RATON, Fla. – Behind stellar pitching, defense and hitting from junior Erin Rethlake, the No. 22 Kentucky softball team opened day one of the Florida Atlantic Invitational 2-0 on Friday with wins over Connecticut and Florida A&M to move to 7-4 on the season.
Rethlake hit .600, going 3-for-5 on the day with a run and a pair of RBI. The junior from Huntington, Indiana also got the win over Florida A&M in the circle, throwing four innings of shutout ball and allowing just one hit in relief for Larissa Spellman, who got the start in game two.
Rethlake came to the plate nine times on the day, and was only retired twice – as she also drew two walks, and had an RBI sacrifice fly against UConn.
Kentucky will continue play at the FAU Invite on Saturday with two games. UK faces Memphis on Saturday afternoon at 3:45 p.m. ET from Boca Raton, followed by the nightcap game against the host Florida Atlantic Owls at 8:15 p.m. ET. The UK/FAU game will be streamed live online through the Conference USA Digital Network for a fee.
GAME ONE – Kentucky 4, UConn 2
4.1. Shannon Smith got the start in the circle for UK, going 4.1 innings, allowing just two runs on two hits, striking out three and only issuing two free passes.
The key play in the game was Bailey Vick’s RBI single to the left side of the outfield to score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Meagan Prince was the key player in the game, coming on to earn her second save of the season. Prince threw 2.2 innings and only allowed one hit to the nine batters she faces, while striking out three.
UConn took the lead early on a leadoff walk that was plated thanks to a two-out RBI single into centerfield. UConn 1, UK 0
Kentucky tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the second inning with a two-out rally jump started by a Brooklin Hinz walk. Rethlake then singled up the middle to push runners to the corners and Bailey Vick singled in the run. UK 1, UConn 1
Two runs were plated by the Wildcats in the bottom of the fourth inning. Abbey Cheek singled up the middle to lead off the inning, and moved to second on a Rachael Metzger bunt. Cheek then moved to third on a fielder’s choice and an error before Rethlake singled in two runs in the next plate appearance for the Wildcats. UK 3, UConn 1
UConn etched closer in the top of the fifth, scoring on an RBI groundout after a lead-off walk was issued by UK pitching and some sloppy defensive mistakes by the Wildcats were capitalized on. UK 3, UConn 2
Kentucky added an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth after Rachael Metzger led off the inning with a single into right center. Pinch runner Brynlee Bigelow came in to run and stole second, advanced to third on a groundout by Hinz – and then scored on an RBI SAC fly to deep center by Rethlake. FINAL – No. 22 Kentucky 4, UConn 2
GAME TWO – Kentucky 2, Florida A&M 0
Two. The Kentucky pitching staff of Larissa Spellman (3 innings) and Erin Rethlake (4 innings) combined to shutout the FAMU offense, allowing just two hits the entire seven innings.
Abbey Cheek drove an RBI double into left center to score pinch runner Madison Kearschner from second base in the top of the fifth inning in a scoreless game.
Erin Rethlake was the key player in the game for UK, not only getting the win in the circle with four shutout, one-hit innings – but also going 1-for-2 at the plate with two walks, a run scored, and an RBI.
In a scoreless game five innings deep, Alex Martens led off the top of the inning with a base hit to the right side. After two popouts – pinch runner Madison Kearschner stole second base and came around to score on an Abbey Cheek RBI double to the wall in left center. UK 1, FAMU 0
One inning later in the top of the sixth, Bailey Vick led off the inning with a double into right and scored on an RBI base hit from Erin Rethlake to plate an insurance run for herself in the circle. FINAL – No. 22 Kentucky 2, Florida A&M 0