ORLANDO, Fla. – The Kentucky softball team opened its 2017 season with a doubleheader split on Friday, winning a thrilling 4-2 game over the Florida A&M Rattlers before dropping a 3-1 decision to the Pitt Panthers at the Central Florida Softball Complex in Orlando.
In the first game, with Kentucky trailing FAMU 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, after the Wildcats tied the game on a dropped third strike, freshman second basemen Alex Martens launched a walk-off two-run home run over the wall in left center to give UK a 4-2 win.
The Wildcats started a lineup in the first game that featured just two seniors, including pitcher Shannon Smith, who picked up her first win of the season, and Breanne Ray in right field. Smith got the win, throwing seven complete innings, allowing just four hits, two runs, one earned, one walk – while striking out 12 batters in the game.
In the second game of Friday’s action – the Pitt Panthers scored three runs in the top of the fifth inning after loading the bases with no outs. Kentucky responded with a run in the bottom half of the fifth with a Jenny Schaper solo home run to left center field – but that would be all the offense UK was able to come up with in the game.
Kentucky will be back in action on Saturday morning for day two of the UCF Invitational – taking on the Pitt Panthers again at 10am ET in the first of two games, and facing UCF at 3:30 p.m. ET.
GAME 1 – Florida A&M
Twelve. Senior pitcher Shannon Smith struck out 12 batters on Friday morning,
With no outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, trailing 2-1 and a runner on second, Abbey Cheek hustled down the line on a dropped third strike to allow Katie Reed to score from second and tie the game at 2-2, setting up the walk-off home run.
Bailey Vick was one of the key players in UK’s win on Friday, going 3-for-3 in her collegiate debut. Vick had three infield singles, and a stolen base as well. She was caught out at third after trying for a possible inside-the-park HR in the third inning.
Florida A&M took the lead in the top of the fifth with the help of two Kentucky defensive errors. After a single put runners on the corners with two outs, another error allowed the run to score, and give the Rattlers the lead. FAMU 1, UK 0
Kentucky responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth, as Erin Rethlake scored the tying run. After a lead-off bunt single, Vick singled, and both stole a base to put runners on second and third with no outs. Katie Reed singled in a run to make it 1-1 and tie the game. UK 1, FAMU 1
FAMU took the 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh with a solo home run from Ton Anderson. FAMU 2, UK 1
Kentucky won the game with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Katie Reed reached with a lead-off single and then got to second on a wild pitch. Abbey Cheek got to first on a dropped third strike, and with the throw going high – allowed Reed to score from second to tie the game. Then, freshman Alex Martens blasted a game-winning home run, the first of her career, to give UK the win. FINAL – No. 20 Kentucky 4, Florida A&M 1
GAME 2- Pittsburgh
Seven. Kentucky left seven runners on base in the game against Pitt.
In the fifth inning, Pitt’s Kaitlin Manuel dropped a base hit into left to plate two runs, and give the Panthers a two-run cushion.
Freshman pitcher Larissa Spellman saw her first action as a Wildcat, throwing the sixth and seventh inning – allowing just one hit in two innings.
Pitt scored all of its runs in the fifth inning. The Panthers loaded the bases with a single, a walk and an error to put three on with no outs. An infield single by Olivia Grey plated a run, before a two-run single plated two more. Pitt 3, Kentucky 0
Kentucky’s only run came off of a two-out solo homer by sophomore Jenny Schaper. FINAL – Pitt 3, No 20 Kentucky 1