By UK ATHLETICS
LEXINGTON, Ky. – The No. 17 Kentucky softball team swept a Saturday doubleheader with the No. 22 Arkansas Razorbacks at John Cropp Stadium to sweep the series and pick up two more wins over top-25 teams.
In game one, it was a slugfest, with each team taking a lead, losing it and then re-gaining it at one point in the game. In the end – it was the Wildcats’ three-run bottom of the fourth that proved to be the difference and hand UK a 7-5 win. In the second game – it was a pitcher’s duel between Autumn Storms of Arkansas and Kentucky’s Shannon Smith. Smith went six innings, allowed just two hits and shutout the Razorbacks before Meagan Prince came on to get the save.
With the two results on Saturday, the Wildcats improve to 22-6 overall on the season and now are above .500 in the Southeastern Conference at 4-2 in league play. Arkansas drops to 22-9 overall and falls to 2-7 inside the SEC.
Two games were played on Saturday with the expectation of inclement weather in Lexington on Sunday afternoon. As a result, there will be no game on Sunday at John Cropp Stadium. Kentucky’s next game will be on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET at Northern Kentucky in Highland Heights, Kentucky.
Dating back to 2016, Kentucky has now swept three of its last six SEC series, and four of its last eight. That has never before been accomplished in program history.
GAME ONE – No. 17 Kentucky 7, No. 22 Arkansas 5
Eight. There were eight different players that recorded at least one hit in the game for Kentucky’s potent offense, including Erin Rethlake, Abbey Cheek and Alex Martens – who all had two hits in the game.
The key play was a one-out, two-RBI single by Alex Martens in the bottom of the fourth inning that pushed across the go-ahead run, as Erin Rethlake scored from third and Abbey Cheek scored from second to put UK up, 7-5.
Erin Rethlake was the key player in the game, scoring a run on two hits, including the game-winning run – as well as pitching 3.0 innings and keeping the Arkansas offense at bay with just two runs on four hits with two key strikeouts, as well.
Tori Cooper laced a two-out RBI single up the middle to score Autumn Russell from second, who got on with a fielder’s choice in the top of the first. ARK 1, UK 0
In the bottom of the first, Kentucky’s Abbey Cheek blasted a no-doubter over the wall in center to score two, plating Erin Rethlake, who singled into left field with one out. UK 2, ARK 1
Arkansas took a 3-2 lead in the top of the second inning, as Stephanie Canfield led off the inning with reaching on an error, as she came around to score on an RBI single from Shelby Hiers. A second run was added, as Sydney Benz scored on a two-out single from Russell. ARK 3, UK 2
Kentucky would re-take the lead with two runs in the bottom of the third. Rethlake got the rally going with a single and then Abbey Cheek doubled to put runners at second and third with one out. Alex Martens then drove in Rethlake and Cheek with a single up the middle. UK 4, ARK 3
Arkansas took a 5-3 lead with two runs in the top of the fourth on a two-run home run from Shelby Hiers on her second long ball of the season. ARK 5, UK 4
The final runs of the game were scored in the bottom of the fourth – as Kentucky loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to a single from Rachael Metzger and walks to Sarah Rainwater and Bailey Vick. Katie Reed and Erin Rethlake both had unsuccessful at-bats, but Cheek walked in a run before Martens singled to give UK two more runs. FINAL – No. 17 Kentucky 7, No. 22 Arkansas 5
GAME TWO – No. 17 Kentucky 2, No. 22 Arkansas 0
Four. Kentucky pitching only allowed four Arkansas batters to reach base all game.
With Kentucky clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, Breanne Ray singled with one out and was pinch ran for by Brynlee Bigelow at first. Bigelow stole second and then came around to score from second on a bunt from Sarah Rainwater off aggressive base running.
Shannon Smith was the key player in the game, earning her first SEC win in over two years – as she threw 6.0 innings, allowing just two hits and no runs to the potent Arkansas offense.
Katie Reed advanced to first on a fielding error from Autumn Storms with two outs. Erin Rethlake singled in the next at-bat, before Abbey Cheek singled up the middle to score Reed from second. UK 1, ARK 0
With Kentucky clinging to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, Breanne Ray singled with one out and was pinch ran for by Brynlee Bigelow at first. Bigelow stole second and then came around to score from second on a bunt from Sarah Rainwater off aggressive base running. FINAL – No. 17 Kentucky 2, No. 22 Arkansas 0