LEXINGTON, Ky. - With five runs in the bottom of the first and an additional insurance run in the bottom of the fifth, the No. 19 Kentucky softball team advanced into the winner's bracket of the 2017 NCAA Softball Lexington Regional on Friday afternoon with a 6-0 win over the DePaul Blue Demons.
The Wildcats will face the Illinois Fighting Illini in the winner's bracket game at Noon ET on Saturday from John Cropp Stadium. The winner of that game will then move into the regional final on Sunday afternoon, where they will need just one win to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals. Illinois knocked off Marshall in a thrilling 3-2 win in 12 innings in the first game on Friday.
Kentucky's offense came out swinging in the first inning on Friday night, scoring five runs on four hits in the opening frame to put away the Blue Demons early. Combine that with stellar pitching from Meagan Prince and Erin Rethlake in the circle, and it was a winning formula for Rachel Lawson.
All of Saturday's games in the Lexington Regional will be shown on an ESPN platform to be announced late Friday night.
Key Stat Five. The Kentucky offense plated five runs in the first inning, the most first-inning runs scored in a single game this year for the Wildcats.
Key Play Jenny Schaper's two-RBI double to the gap in right center made it a 5-0 game in the bottom of the first inning, and was the key play in Friday's decisive win.
Key Player Alex Martens was the key player for Kentucky, going 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBI hits in the game. Martens plated UK's second run of the game in the bottom of the first inning with a single to right field, and then scored Abbey Cheek from first base on an RBI double to right in the bottom of the fifth.
Run Recap Katie Reed led off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, and came around to score on an infield single by Abbey Cheek with one out. Alex Martens then singled in Brooklin Hinz, who walked, and that made it 2-0 UK with one out in the inning. Breanne Ray doubled off the second basemen's glove and into right field to score Cheek and that made it 3-0. The fourth-straight UK hit was a two-RBI double by Jenny Schaper into the gap in right center. UK 5, DePaul 0
Kentucky would play add-on in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Martens doubled to center field to score Abbey Cheek from first base, who got on with a fielder's choice earlier in the inning. FINAL - (14) Kentucky 6, DePaul 0