After a strong run-rule 8-0 victory over the No. 5 seeded Ole Miss Rebels in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Friday afternoon in College Station, Texas, the No. 4 seeded UK softball team lost to the top-seeded Alabama Crimson Tide in the semifinals 6-3 later that same day.
Autumn Humes (13-10) helped anchor the shutout with a complete game victory. She gave up just four hits and a walk while retiring four batters. Abbey Cheek and her team-leading 20thhome run on the year helped kick off the run-laden momentum.
Wasting no time, Cheek slammed a two-run home run ball in the first inning to make the score 2-0 Cats. That home run, like several home runs in previous games, seemed to set off a chain reaction two innings later.
In the third inning, Sarah Rainwater made it home following a passed ball from third. That would be the first run for UK in a six-run inning. Mallory Peyton soon whiffed an RBI double to left field to increase the Cats’ lead 5-0. She had herself a night at the plate, going 2-for-3.
Bailey Vick helped set off some more fireworks with an RBI single as she went 2-for-2 on the night. Jenny Schaper immediately followed that up with an RBI single of her own, then Katie Reed capped off the inning festivities with yet another RBI single. Reed also finished the night with a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate.
Playing in their first SEC semifinal game since 2014 just several hours later, the Cats faced off against a powerhouse Alabama team they played in Tuscaloosa just two weeks ago. Looking to avenge the series loss, the Cats were met by the same tenacious offense.
In the second inning, the Crimson Tide did what the Cats did to Ole Miss earlier in the day-- Alabama had a six-run inning of its own. Claire Jenkins walked with the bases loaded to bring home the first run. Caroline Hardy popped an RBI single before K.B. Sides whacked a three-run RBI double. Merris Schroder put the icing on the cake after brining home Sides on a fielder’s choice.
The Cats showed no signs of doubt, though. An inning later, Schaper hit an RBI single up the middle to give the Cats their first run of the day. Peyton hit a sacrifice fly toward center field and Lauren Johnson slipped an RBI single up the middle as well to cut the Crimson Tide’s lead 6-3. Johnson’s 2-for-3 performance at the plate was a highlight for the Cats.
Meghan Schorman (5-2) was on the losing end. In just 1 1/3 innings pitched, she allowed two hits and four runs without garnering a strikeout. Alabama pitching ace Sarah Cornell (21-1) continued her near-perfect season, receiving a victory following 5 2/3 innings pitched.
The Cats will learn their fate in the 2019 NCAA Tournament during the NCAA selection show this Sunday, May 12that 9 p.m. on ESPN2. They are expected to be one of 30 at-large bids.