Third time's the charm.
That’s what some Cats fans might be thinking after the No. 14 seeded UK softball team (36-22) defeated the Virginia Tech Hokies 11-1 (47-11) in six innings in the NCAA Lexington Regional Final on Sunday afternoon to advance to their third straight NCAA Super Regional and sixth in seven years.
Abbey Cheek went 3-for-4 at the plate with a double and Alex Martens coupled that with a 4-for-5, 5 RBI performance at the plate. Both hitters awoke from a series batting slump. They each entered Sunday having hit .143 in the last two games.
Cats’ starting ace Autumn Humes (15-10) came back and pitched another regional outing victory. Humes pitched a complete game as she only allowed a hit, a run and a walk on two strikeouts. ACC Pitcher of the Year Carrie Eberle Jr. (25-8) came back out after only a day of rest and received the loss after pitching 4 2/3 innings.
The Cats tried to get the train moving early in the top of the first. With two outs and runners on second and third, Kayla Kowalik hit a choppy infield ground ball before the throw to first barely beat her to end the inning. There wouldn’t be much else from either side until the third inning.
Jenny Schaper got the pot stirring for the Cats after she blasted a solo home run shot beyond center field for the first run of the day. She finished the day 1-for-3 at the plate. Three batters later, Martens doubled up the middle to bring home a pair of runs, giving the Cats a 3-0 lead.
Those two RBIs gave Martens the record for most RBIs by a Wildcat in a single season. She now has 66 RBIs this season, surpassing Brooke Marnitz’s previous record of 61 set in 2007.
After the Cats went three up, three down in the top of the fourth, Virginia Tech responded with a solo home run from Kelsey Bennett that same inning to give the Hokies their first and only run of the day, cutting the Cats’ lead 3-1. However, that wouldn’t be much help for the Hokies.
The Cats launched an offensive juggernaut in the fifth. Lauren Johnson started it off with a 3-2 count, two out, RBI single. Kowalik soon scored after a wild pitch by Eberle. Mallory Peyton then whacked an RBI double for her first hit of the series. Kelsee Henson capped off the festivies with an RBI single.
That wouldn’t be it for the Cats though. In the sixth inning, Martens put the cherry on top of the cake with a three-run home run to put the game out of reach. Virginia Tech didn’t get any hits in the last two innings and went three up, three down in the fifth.
The Cats will face either the Washington Huskies or conference rival Mississippi State Bulldogs in the NCAA Super Regionals this coming week. They will figure out who they’re playing when the Huskies and Bulldogs square off at 9 p.m. Eastern tonight.