[Moderated by Matt Jones]
It’s Senior Day in the Bluegrass. What a great weekend it was as the ladies who have achieved so many firsts for the University of Kentucky Softball team added another first to their list as they came through with the University’s first ever SEC series win over LSU. The current seniors are the winningest in Kentucky history and obviously were paramount in the Cats run to the Super Regionals in last year’s NCAA Softball Tournament. Here is a quick glance at the six seniors who have done so much for the program.
Hometown: Paris, Texas
The left handed batter and right handed thrower has been a staple through the last 4 years at UK. Allen hasn’t made herself into a big name star at UK but she has consistently chipped in for the Bat Cats. Allen is a multiple time All-SEC Academic team performer and has stepped up in a role as pinch runner this year. Macy has scored 10 runs on the season, in addition to tallying 1 hit.
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Chanda Bell has exploded this season. It comes as no surprise as she has been a stud for UK through her four years in the Bluegrass. Bell has set multiple pitching records, including tallying the most strikeouts by a pitcher and becoming the first pitcher in UK history to tally a perfect game. Bell was a 2009 All-SEC Freshman Team Member and a Two time SEC weekly award winner. The list of accolades for this season should be plentiful as Chanda has exploded onto the national scene. Bell has a 2.60 ERA this season and struck out 194 batters on the year. She is 16-10 this season.
Hometown: Chatsworth, California
Cervantes has been a jack of all trades for the Cats over her four years here. She is the school’s all time leading home run hitter and single season runs leader. Cervantes has been named to the 2011 NFCA All-Region Second team, she was a 2009 All-SEC Freshman Team Member, and was a Two-Time SEC Weekly Award Winner. Brittany has played in all 55 games this year, starting 53. She has a .312 batting average on the year and has hit 12 home runs and 34 RBI.
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Ashleigh has been an All-SEC Academic team performer twice in her career. Her first ever Collegiate hit was a three run homer against Austin Peay her junior year. Gustafson has started in 1 game this year and played in 16. She has scored 3 runs as she fills in for the pinch hitter and runner roles.
Hometown: Bowling Green, Ky
Rachel Riley has really done it all over her four year career as a Cat. Not only has she cemented herself as an effective pitcher, she has become one of the most explosive hitters on the team. Riley was a member of the 2011 NFCA All-Region First team, the 2009 All-SEC Tournament Team, and is a One-time SEC Weekly Award Winner. Ms. Riley has played and started in all 55 games this season and managed a .263 BA with 7 home runs and 30 RBI. Riley is 8-7 on the mound this year with a 3.25 era. Rachel was on the preseason Player of the Year watch list before the 2012 season.
Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana
Erika was a member of the 2010 All-SEC Academic team her sophomore year. She has appeared in 14 games this year, starting in 1. She has a .167 BA this season her only two hits being home runs. That’s efficiency. She has 4 RBI this season.
Now to today’s game… I mentioned that the Cats just clinched their first ever series victory over LSU. Well, they also just swept LSU. In a defensive battle, UK toppled the previously ranked #22 LSU Tigers 1-0. Chanda Bell was the pitcher today and she threw a no hitter. What a great way to go out. With the win the Cats have cemented the Number 5 seed in the upcoming SEC tournament and really help their At-Large Chances for the Big Dance. I’d say they’re in barring an early exit from the SEC tourney. Obviously with an SEC Crown the ladies are automatically in but I wouldn’t say the Cats necessarily need to do that to get in.
There were no runs scored today until the bottom of the sixth when Alice O’Brien batted in Griffin Joiner. Chanda Bell quickly closed out the Tigers and that was that as the Cats won their last 4 games in a row and 6 out of their last 7 to gain some serious momentum heading into the SEC tourney. The 5th seeded Cats will match up first against the 4th seeded Georgia Bulldogs on May 10th. UK took two out of the three in their regular season series. The game will be aired live on one of the ESPN family of Networks. The SEC tournament is a three day single elimination event. It will be held at the University of Alabama. Here’s a quick look at the SEC Standings and the game notes from today’s senior day celebration. The standings are subject to change as results come in from today:
1) Alabama (22-5)
2) Tennessee (22-6)
3) Florida (21-6)
4) Georgia (16-11)
5) Kentucky (15-13)
6) LSU (15-13)
7) Mississippi St. (12-15)
8) Auburn (11-16)
9) Arkansas (7-20)
10) Ole Miss (6-21)
11) South Carolina (3-24)
It truly was special that Bell could exit the UK Softball Complex with a no hitter. Coach Rachel Lawson had this to say after the outing:
“For Chanda Bell to be able to throw a no hitter on senior day is pretty special. When we woke up, we were just trying to come up with how we were going to get through Senior Day ceremonies, so for her to throw a no hitter is pretty special.”
Pitching: The super senior came through in a big way with a no hitter complete game performance. Chanda Bell improved to 16-10 on the season with the win and struck out 6 today.
Batting: LSU obviously blanked at the plate today and Kentucky only managed 4 hits. The Cats were led by Alice O’Brien’s RBI that scored Joiner. Cervantes, Dill, and Cumbess all had 1 hit in addition to Joiner’s 1. Cervantes doubled.
Errors: No errors for either team today.
Game Notes: The start time was at 1:13 pm after all of the Senior Festivities. The game lasted 1:53 and there were a wild 1554 fans in attendance. The weather was hot in the low 80s.
The Cats fifth place finish in the SEC is the best under Coach Lawson. This season obviously didn’t go quite as planned but boy has the SEC season been special. To come out above .500 in SEC play is no easy task. Let the Postseason begin!!
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