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Wildcats fall short in NCAA Softball Super Regional, dropping narrow 6-5 decision to Oregon


EUGENE, Ore. – The third-seeded Oregon Ducks took advantage of a rare bad inning in the top of the seventh inning, scoring four times off four hits to come from behind and end the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats’ season at Jane Sanders Stadium, 6-5 in the second game of the 2017 Eugene Super Regional.

The Wildcats end the season with a 39-19 overall record – and made it to the NCAA Super Regional for the fifth time in the last seven years – all coming under the guidance and leadership of head coach Rachel Lawson.

Kentucky came out on fire offensively – scoring the first three runs of the game before the Ducks responded for two in the bottom of the fifth to make it a one-run game. UK then got a two-run single by Erin Rethlake – but it was erased in the Oregon seventh when the Ducks scored four runs.

The Wildcats end the season with a 39-19 overall record – and made it to the NCAA Super Regional for the fifth time in the last seven years (UK Athletics Photo)

Oregon moves on to the NCAA Women’s College World Series, sweeping the Eugene Super Regional two games to none.

The key stat in the game was seven – as the Wildcats got seven hits in the game.

The key play came in the top of the fifth inning. After the Ducks got runners to second and third with one out, Meagan Prince was called for the first illegal pitch of her Kentucky career to force in the first run of the game for the Ducks.

Katie Reed was the key player in the game, making some sensational defensive plays in the fifth inning to save the frame from being more problematic than it was – and also leading off the game with a single, and coming in to score in the first inning.

“I love that they came out fighting today,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. “I thought that was great. And that is something we’ve done all year. We went through our regional very easily. We did a great job in some series this year and when we faltered in the middle of the season we always came back and we came back better. I think that was a real sign of the future of the program.”

The present for UK softball, however, is pretty painful. Facing elimination, the Cats built a 5-2 lead on No. 3 Oregon, only to see it disappear when the Ducks plated four runs in the top of the seventh inning to send UK to a season-ending defeat in heartbreaking fashion.

“As disappointed as we are in this game, I think overall this was a good season for us for a couple reasons,” Lawson said. “We replaced a lot of seniors that had four years of starting experience and for us to be able to come and go to a supers with such a young team shows that the program’s in a good place.”

What Lawson wants the Cats to work for now is a national seed, which means the right to host super regionals. UK learned the value of that first-hand in playing in front of raucous Oregon crowds of about 2,500 on both Friday and Saturday.

“You don’t just want to be a top-16 national seed,” Lawson said. “I think the atmosphere, especially when they have such a great atmosphere like they have at Oregon, like we have at Kentucky with the Big Blue Nation, you want to be playing in front of your fans so when you are in a tight situation the fans can help push you over the edge.”

From UK Athletics


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