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Kentucky softball clinches SEC Tournament bye despite dropping regular-season finale

Kentucky softball team celebrates historic upset

Ballard Memorial defeated McCracken County, 3-2, in the 1st Region softball tournament semifinals on May 30, 2018, becoming the first team in the region to ever beat the Mustangs.
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Ballard Memorial defeated McCracken County, 3-2, in the 1st Region softball tournament semifinals on May 30, 2018, becoming the first team in the region to ever beat the Mustangs.

Despite a disappointing final weekend of the regular season, there’s a silver lining for the University of Kentucky softball team.

The No. 18 Wildcats blew a four-run lead, falling at No. 21 Texas Tech 9-6 in their regular-season finale on Sunday. But thanks to some help from Georgia, Kentucky locked up a bye in this week’s Southeastern Conference Tournament, giving the Cats a leg up as they begin a postseason run they hope ends in Oklahoma City with the second College World Series appearance in program history.

Against the Red Raiders, Kentucky went ahead 3-0 in the third inning on Mallory Peyton’s 13th home run of the year. The Wildcats extended the lead to 6-2 in the top of the fifth on Alex Martens’ 11th homer of the year, a three-run shot that scored Katie Reed and Abbey Cheek.

But Texas Tech (38-13) torched UK reliever Autumn Humes in the bottom of the sixth, scoring seven runs on eight hits, including a pair of homers. A three-run blast by Jessica Hartwell proved to be the game-winner.

The seven runs the Red Raiders put up in the sixth were the most scored against Kentucky in a single inning this season. The Wildcats fell to 32-21 overall and enter the postseason on a two-game losing streak.

But while Texas Tech was busy rallying, Georgia was busy helping Kentucky’s cause. The Bulldogs routed Mississippi 8-0 on Sunday, completing a three-game sweep of the Rebels and locking the Wildcats into the No. 4 seed and giving them the final first-round bye in the SEC Tournament.

Kentucky will play its first game on at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in College Station, Texas, on the campus of Texas A&M. They’ll face No. 5 seed Mississippi, No. 12 Mississippi State or No. 13 Texas A&M.

The Bulldogs and Aggies will open the tournament at 11 a.m. Wednesday and the Rebels will face the winner of that game later in the day with a matchup against Kentucky on the line.

SEC Tournament

Kentucky vs. TBD

7:30 p.m. Thursday in College Station, Texas (SEC Network)

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