Softball Cats get first tourney win

Rachel Riley pitched a five-hit shutout, and Molly Johnson provided the only runs of the game with a two-run homer as the University of Kentucky softball team upset No. 7 Georgia 2-0 Thursday in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at Knoxville.

It was the first victory in SEC tourney history for UK (32-20), which will play Alabama on Friday at 5 p.m. Alabama advanced by beating Arkansas, 8-0 in five innings Thursday.

It also was UK's fourth win over a top-25 team this season and its first over an opponent ranked in the top 10.

"I'm very proud of this team, because they came out and played like they have all year," UK Coach Rachel Lawson said. "You never know what you are going to get when you haven't been in post-season play for a long time and you have so many young players. ... I was very proud of them."

Riley (6-5), a freshman, pitched seven scoreless innings, struck out two and did not walk a batter. She was aided by several defensive gems, including three inning-ending stops by third baseman Brittany Cervantes and a running grab by sophomore Annie Rowlands in left.

Johnson's blast off Christie Hamilton (21-8) broke a scoreless tie in the top of the fifth. The All-SEC junior shortstop fell behind in the court 0-2, then fought off six consecutive pitches to stay alive during the at-bat.

Johnson hit the next pitch over the left-field wall, scoring pinch runner Macy Allen.

"That was everything," Lawson said. "I think that was a big relief and a big weight off our shoulders. We were just able to go out and finish the game."

Riley and sixth-seeded UK did just that. Third-seeded Georgia (39-10) singled to lead off the fifth and sixth innings but never advanced a runner past second base.

Georgia Coach Lu Harris-Champer bemoaned her team's lack of timely hitting.

"The name of the game is base hits together. ... We were just not getting hits like we needed to," she said.

Other sports

■ Freshman Ashlee Rose shot a 74, and the UK women's golf team was tied for 11th with a 20-over 308 after the first round of the NCAA Regional at the Scarlet Golf Course in Columbus, Ohio. Rose, at 2 over, was tied for 13th. Senior Mallory Blackwelder was at 4-over 76 and tied for 30th.

UK, tied with Louisville, was 24 strokes behind first-round leader UCLA.

■ The UK men's tennis team will face Cleveland State in the first round of the NCAA Championships at 1 p.m. Friday at the Hilary J. Boone Complex. No. 11 UK (17-10) is the top seed at the site. Cleveland State (20-5) is seeded fourth.

■ The UK and Ohio State women's tennis teams, which battled for five straight hours while five courts went to three sets earlier this season, meet again in the first round of the NCAA Championships at Northwestern on Friday. This is the 13th consecutive NCAA trip for No. 26 UK (12-10).