The Toledo softball team opened the NCAA Lexington Regional today with a 7-2 loss to Kentucky.
Toledo took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on five consecutive singles, but the Wildcats countered with four runs in the bottom of the first and added three more in the fifth to clinch the victory.
Toledo's eight hits in the contest matched Kentucky's, but the Rockets were not able to get any timely hits after the first inning. Sophomore Erin Hunt took the loss, pitching well for much of the game despite the final score as she struck out four batters on the day.
"The better team came out on top but we're proud that we showed that we can we play with this type of team," head coach Joe Abraham said. "Because of the way we played in the MAC tournament last week we were confident throughout this whole game, even going into the seventh inning."
The Wildcats finished the regular-season ranked 16th in the NCAA RPI with a 34-22 overall record and 14-10 record in the SEC. Despite being a powerhouse, Abraham and the Rockets weren't phased coming into the game.
"In that first inning we weren't the least bit intimidated so it didn't surprise me that we came out with two runs in the first," Abraham said. "Our girls can flat out rake. I'm surprised we didn't get more, frankly."
Toledo saw eight of nine batters record a hit, and today's runs were brought in from sophomore Bekah Yenrick and junior Morgan Paaverud.
The Rockets' next game is tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. where they'll face Illinois in an elimination game. The winner of the that contest will play the loser of the Kentucky-Virginia Tech game, which will be played at noon tomorrow.
How it happened:
• The Rockets were laser-focused from the start as they opened the scoring with two runs in the first inning. After the first two batters made outs, the next five Rockets hit singles. Sophomore Bekah Yenrick brought around the first run with a single through the right side. Singles by freshman Aubrey Reed and junior Morgan Paaverud then brought in the second run. The inning came to a close as junior Samantha Golden went down swinging with the bases loaded.
• Kentucky responded in the bottom of the first by opening with a walk and HBP to put two on. Senior Abbey Cheek then hit a two-run double into center to tie things up. Sophomore pitcher Erin Hunt then earned her first strikeout of the day before walking another batter. An error on the shortstop then allowed the runner to come in from third to put UK ahead 3-2. Kentucky's final run of the first came two batters later as sophomore Lauren Johnson hit an RBI single up the left side.
• The game then settled into a pitchers' duel for two innings as both sides went down 1-2-3 in the second and third. Toledo looked to start something in the fourth as Reed reached on an error by the shortstop in the leadoff position, but the chance was halted as UK worked a double play to close the inning. Kentucky then put two in scoring position as Johnson doubled and junior Bailey Vick reached first on a bunt, advancing to second after realizing that no one was covering the bag. Despite the effort, no one came home as Toledo put up the final out on an F7.
• The Rockets worked two on in the fifth with one out, but the runners were left stranded as UK turned its second double play of the game.
• The Wildcats added three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning as junior Alex Martens hit a two-run homer and senior Kelsee Henson hit a sac fly to bring UK's lead to 7-2.
• Toledo got the leadoff runner on in the sixth on a walk but could do nothing with it. The Rockets started a rally in the seventh on a leadoff single from junior Samantha Golden and a walk from Choate, but it wasn't meant to be as Cozy hit into a fielder's choice with two outs on the board to close out the game.