Brittany Cervantes set a Kentucky record with her 36th career home run to lift the Cats to a 7-6 win over North Carolina State and a spot in the finals of the UK Softball Invitational on Saturday in front of 1,044 fans at the UK Softball Complex.
"It's definitely a special moment to see Brittany get that career-record home run," UK Coach Rachel Lawson said of the senior. "She is a big part of our team, and it really is an amazing accomplishment. "
After a complete-game shutout against Missouri-Kansas City earlier in the day, senior Chanda Bell got her seventh win, entering in the fifth and working 21⁄3 innings. She gave up one hit and struck out eight of the nine batters she faced, giving her 21 for the day. Starter Ellen Weaver worked 41⁄3 innings and struck out five.
The Cats (12-14) scored five runs in the fourth for a 6-3 lead, but N.C. State (14-15) answered with three in the fifth. Then Cervantes struck back with a shot to left-center with two out and a full count.
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UK faces Alabama-Birmingham in the finals at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Blazers are 4-0 in the tournament after beating UMKC 3-1 on Saturday. They beat Kentucky 6-5 in 10 innings on Friday.
Bell (7-4) struck out 13 in the opening 4-0 win over UMKC. Cervantes led the way at the plate for the Cats, going 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run, and UK broke a six-game losing streak, including two on Friday to open the tournament.
Thomas, Tide rolling
Former St. Xavier star Justin Thomas was three shots off the lead after shooting a 68 Saturday for overwhelming leader Alabama in the second round of the Schenkel Invitational in Statesboro, Ga. The Tide lead 13 schools, including ninth-place UK, by 21 strokes going into Sunday's final round.
Golf women in sixth
The Kentucky women's golf team finished the second round of the SunTrust Gator Women's Invitational in sixth place Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. The Cats shot 19 over, leaving them at 30-over 590 entering the final round.
UK is 13 strokes off the lead, shared by Alabama and Florida at 17-over 577. Betsie Johnson led the Cats in the second round, shooting a 2-over 72. Johnson's two birdies in the second round left her in a tie for 11th at 5-over 145.