COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State scored all their runs on homers and sent Kentucky packing with a 7-2 home victory Saturday in the NCAA regional tournament.
It was UK's first appearance in NCAA play, and the Cats had won two straight after dropping their first game in the double-elimination tournament.
Kentucky beat Canisius and and Brigham Young on Friday to advance to Saturday's Championship series. The Cats return all but one player to next season's squad.
"It's been a good season for us; we've had a lot of firsts," said Coach Rachel Lawson. "I'm very proud of this team and very proud of their run in post-season play. I don't think, prior to this season, we understood how good we could be. We didn't understand what it would take to make it through an entire season. For our program, this run means a ton, because now they know they can compete at this level and, more importantly, come back from adversity."
Kentucky (34-23) scored its runs in the second inning and tied it at 2-all. Freshman Brittany Cervantes got on base to start it off when OSU shortstop Alicia Herron bobbled the ball.
Sophomores Meagan Aull and Samantha DeMartine then laid down consecutive bunts that loaded the bases. Freshman Rachel Riley brought Cervantes home with a single through the right side. Sophomore Annie Rowlands popped up to shallow right field, but two OSU defenders crashed into each other, and the ball dribbled out of second baseman Whitney Cooper's glove. Pinch runner Jennifer Young seized the opportunity and headed for home.
Junior Molly Johnson was a bright spot for Kentucky, going 3-for-3, all singles.
Riley entered the game in the third in relief of starter Chanda Bell, who had given up five hits. Riley went the rest of the way, giving up five runs, one earned, and striking out two.
Kim Reeder (26-5) scattered six hits and struck out five in a complete game for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State pulled away with a three-run fifth, including two home runs and put it out of reach with another two-run shot in the seventh.
Despite the disappointing loss, Kentucky enjoyed easily the best season in school history.
UK finished sixth in the always strong Southeastern Conference and scored an upset victory over No. 7 Georgia in the league tournament. The Cats posted the second-most victories in school history with 34, including 13 in the SEC. All-SEC first teamer Johnson and Yocke were named to the tournament's All-Region team.