Softball Cats overcome sloppy fielding to beat Butler

mmaloney@herald-leader.comFebruary 28, 2014 

  • THIS WEEKEND

    At UK's John Cropp Stadium

    Saturday

    11 a.m. — Butler vs. Pittsburgh

    1 p.m. — Butler vs. EKU

    3 p.m. —Kentucky vs. Pittsburgh

    5 p.m. — Kentucky vs. EKU

    Sunday

    Noon — Pittsburgh vs. EKU

    2 p.m. — Kentucky vs. Pittsburgh

Already off to its best start in school history, Kentucky finally opened its home schedule Friday at John Cropp Stadium.

A pair of errors contributed to five unearned runs against UK, but the Wildcats' offense was strong enough to pull out a 9-7 victory over Butler.

Emily Jolly and Lauren Cumbess each homered as the eighth-ranked Cats, in the opener of a three-day tournament, improved to 14-2. Jolly and Dari Richardson each had two of UK's nine hits, and each drove in a pair of runs.

UK Coach Rachel Lawson, who notched her 300th career victory and 208th at Kentucky, wasn't pleased with two errors, but she's not fretting either.

"Generally speaking, defense is our forté," she said. "I think it was more of an anomaly than anything, so I'm not worried."

The Wildcats jumped to an 8-0 lead, putting up four-spots in the second and third innings.

Jolly's two-run homer, her fifth blast of the season, highlighted the second-inning breakthrough.

"Most of my home runs, I just swing," Jolly said. "It's not anything in particular. It's just there, I guess."

Cumbess led off the third with her second homer of the year, to center. Richardson added a two-run triple, later scoring on a groundout.

"I was just looking for something over the plate," Cumbess said. "Coach (Kristine) Himes pulled me over before I got up to the plate and she just said 'when you swing, make sure it's your swing — make sure it's an aggressive swing and swing hard at it,' so that's what I did."

UK batted around in the third, which might have contributed to an early exit for right-hander Kelsey Nunley on a 40-degree day.

Nunley ran into trouble in the fourth, giving way to Meagan Prince with two outs and the bases loaded.

One run scored on third baseman Nikki Sagermann's error, another on a balk and a third on a wild pitch.

"We were doing well at first and then, I think what happened is when we had that big inning, Kelsey got a little cold and, when she came out, it was a less-than-ideal situation," Lawson said. "So we had to put Meagan Prince in, who wasn't really warm. And I think when that happened, everybody kind of rushed and was in a little bit of a tailspin, and we ended up giving up a lot of runs.

"Overall, I don't think we played very well. We played great at times, but I didn't like the defense at all. I think we gave them entirely too many runs."

UK added a run in the sixth on Sagermann's bases-loaded walk.

Butler (4-10) made it close with four runs in the seventh.

With one out, two bunt-singles and a swinging bunt loaded the bases.

Alex Kotter's single to left was misplayed and allowed three runs to score, with Kotter making it all the way to third. She scored on a groundout, but Prince struck out Chelsea Norwood to end the game.

Kotter finished with two of the Bulldogs' seven hits.

Due to a threat of inclement weather, the Saturday and Sunday schedules have been adjusted to accommodate traveling teams.

Saturday's schedule: Butler vs. Pitt, 11 a.m.; Butler vs. Eastern Kentucky, 1 p.m.; UK vs. Pitt, 3; UK vs. EKU, 5.

Sunday's schedule: Pitt vs. EKU, noon; UK vs. Pitt, 2.

Admission is free to all games.

KENTUCKY 9, BUTLER 7

Butler 000 300 4 — 7 7 1

Kentucky 044 001 x — 9 8 2

Bry, Tarrant (3), Starwalt (3) and Leichty. Nunley, Prince (4) and Joiner. W — Prince (3-0); L — Bry (3-5). HR — UK: Jolly (5), Cumbess (2). 2B — BU: Norwood. 3B — UK: Richardson.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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