LEXINGTON, Ky. – Behind a two-hitter pitched from senior Meagan Prince in the circle, and clutch at bats from sophomores Katie Reed and Jenny Schaper, the No. 21 Kentucky softball team stunned the No. 3 Florida Gators 5-1 on Saturday in front of a record regular-season record crowd of 1,617 fans at John Cropp Stadium.
The win for the Wildcats clinches postseason eligibility for the NCAA Tournament, as UK improves to 26-12 and now sits just two games below .500 in the Southeastern Conference at 6-8. Florida suffers just its third loss all season and falls to 39-3 overall, and is now tied for the SEC lead at 14-2 with Texas A&M.
Prince earned her 13th win of the season in the circle for the Wildcats, as she shifts her record to 13-6 overall. The sophomore threw one of her best games of the season, allowing just two hits from the SEC-leading offense in Florida. Prince went the distance for the 10th time this season, and allowed just one run on two hits, walked just three and was two off her season high of nine strikeouts.
Game three of the series will be on Easter Sunday at 1 p.m. ET from John Cropp Stadium. There are very limited amounts of tickets remaining. Fans are encouraged to arrive to the stadium early and park in the Blue Lot of Commonwealth Stadium before taking the Softball Shuttles to the front gates of John Cropp Stadium. The game will be shown live on the SEC Network+, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
Four. The four-run win for Kentucky over the Gators marks the first time that Florida has lost by four or more runs since March 23, 2015, two years ago, when the Alabama Crimson Tide knocked off the Gators by the same score line of 5-1.
With Kentucky leading 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Katie Reed roped a two-out, two-RBI single into left field to score Brooklin Hinz and Kelsee Henson to make it a four-run cushion for Prince in the seventh. It turned out Prince didn’t need any cushion at all, as she sat down the Gators 1-2-3 in the seventh.
Katie Reed was the key player in the game, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and scoring two runs. Reed led off the game with a single to the SS, then singled to keep the go-ahead fifth-inning rally churning before her clutch two-RBI single in the sixth to put the Wildcats up, 5-1.
Kentucky scored first in the bottom of the first inning, as Abbey Cheek reached via a throwing error from shortstop Sophia Reynoso to plate Katie Reed, who led off the game with a single into shallow CF. UK 1, UF 0
Florida responded rather quickly, as in the top of the second Aleshia Ocasio led off the inning with a base hit up the middle, and she came around to score on an RBI-single from Justine McLean. UK 1, UF 1
After three scoreless innings – Kentucky broke through in the bottom of the fifth, striking for two runs. Erin Rethlake power slapped a lead-off single into left field and Katie Reed bunted for a hit to put two on with nobody out. Bailey Vick got the runners to second and third before a wild pitch scored Erin Rethlake from third to make it 2-1. Jenny Schaper then singled into shallow RF to make it 3-1 as Reed came around to score. UK 3, UF 1
In the bottom of the sixth, Breanne Ray and Rachael Metzger both singled to lead off the inning to put runners on first and second with nobody out. A sacrifice bunt from Rainwater moved the runners over before Katie Reed launched a two-out two-RBI single into LF to score pinch runners Brooklin Hinz and Kelsee Henson. UK 5, UF 1
The Wildcats defense was sharp in the seventh as the Gators’ 9-1-2 batters were sent down in order to end the game. FINAL – No. 21 Kentucky 5, No. 3 Florida 1