Kentucky's senior class delivered in a big way to give the Wildcats their first NCAA Super Regionals bid with a dramatic walk-off seventh inning rally against 10th-seeded Michigan 2-1 in Ann Arbor, Mich., Sunday.
With UK down 1-0, senior Meagan Aull smacked her 10th home run of the season over the right-field fence to tie it. After a pair of walks and a hit batter, senior Annie Rowlands delivered a one-out single into shallow right field to give UK the win.
"My dad and I were talking before regionals that 'How funny would this be if this came down to you,'' Rowlands told AnnArbor.com. "Obviously I'm not the most powerful, best numbers on the team. But you always dream about it.
"Then it was kind of lining up for me that way and I was like 'This is going to happen.' I didn't know how it was going to happen and it wasn't the prettiest thing ever, but I knew it was going to happen somehow."
Kentucky (39-14) will host a three-game series against seventh-seeded California (42-10) this weekend.
UK junior Rachel Riley pitched a one-hitter for her 12th win of the season. Kentucky's only error of the tournament led to the one unearned run she surrendered.
Sophomore Kara Dill, Rowlands, senior Samantha DeMartine, freshman Emily Jolly and junior Brittany Cervantes made several tough defensive play to support Riley.
"Our defense has been outstanding all weekend long, but today that is the reason why we won," UK Coach Rachel Lawson said. "All of our defensive plays, plus Rachel's pitching, kept us in the game long enough for us so we could have that awesome seventh inning."
"They made a lot of great plays out there," Wolverines third baseman Amanda Chidester told the Michigan Daily. "Everyone came ready to play. It was going to come down to the end. And it did."
Aull became the fourth different Wildcat to hit 10 or more home runs this season. Senior Megan Yocke, DeMartine, Dill and Rowlands accounted for UK's other hits.
Michigan senior All-America pitcher Jordan Taylor was stellar before the last inning. She finished with 11 strikeouts in 61⁄3 innings.
"Jordan was pitching really well, but one run against a team like that offers no comfort zone," Michigan Coach Carol Hutchins told the Michigan Daily. "There's a reason we play seven innings."
California pitcher Jolene Henderson shut out host Louisville for the second straight day, leading the Bears to the Super Regionals with a 3-0 victory Sunday.
Senior shortstop Colby Wherry led the Cardinals with two hits, including a double, the only extra base hit of the game. Louisville stranded nine runners to Cal's eight.