Softball

Rylea Smith, No. 9 Kentucky Fend Off No. 5 Gators in Nine Innings

by Chris Shoals

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For the first time since 2012, the No. 9 Kentucky softball team won a game at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium, beating the No. 5 Florida Gators 4-2 in nine innings on Sunday afternoon behind a spectacular game-saving catch and game-winning RBI from sophomore outfielder Rylea Smith and a sparkling performance in the circle from senior pitcher Autumn Humes.
 
Sunday marks the program’s third time beating a top-10 ranked Florida team in history and the first Southeastern Conference win on the season for UK, as the Wildcats salvaged a game from the series on SEC Opening Weekend.
 
Florida entered the bottom of the seventh inning trailing by a pair of runs, and scored twice as a lead-off home run and run-scoring wild pitch tied the game. Kentucky had a chance to score in the eighth and didn’t, but was able to plate two in the ninth on an RBI single by Rylea Smith and a Gator error.
 
Autumn Humes picked up the win in the circle to improve to 9-1 on the season. Humes was sensational all game, throwing 7.1 innings, allowing just two hits, two walks and striking out one. Humes did not allow a run in her 7.1 innings.
 
Kentucky is now 20-2 on the season and improves to 1-2 in SEC play. The Wildcats will return home to Lexington and will play a home game inside John Cropp Stadium for the first time all season Tuesday night, as UK welcomes Eastern Kentucky for a 6 p.m. ET game. Tickets are extremely limited, so fans interested in attending should look to purchase tickets now at UKathletics.com/tickets before supplies run out. The game will be broadcasted live on the SEC Network+, ESPN3 and the ESPN app with Dave Baker and Carol Bruggeman on the call from Lexington.
 
Key Stat
9. This was Kentucky’s first extra-inning game of the season, as the Wildcats needed nine innings to close out the Gators, but did so with a 4-2 win.
 
Key Player
Rylea Smith was the key player for Kentucky going 3-for-4 at the dish with three singles, the game-winning RBI in the top of the ninth inning, and even more impressively a game-saving catch in the bottom of the seventh inning to keep Florida to two runs. The catch was a diving grab to her left, and she laid out with a full extension to prevent Gator runners on second and third from scoring the game-winning run with two outs.
 
Key Play
The key play in the game was Rylea Smith’s aforementioned grab in the bottom of the seventh inning.
 
Run Recap
Erin Coffel gave Kentucky the 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on her 10th home run of the season to right-center. Coffel is the fastest player to reach 10 home runs as a freshman in school history (22 games played) and the fourth player in program history to hit at least 10 home runs in their freshman season. UK 2, UF 0
 
In the bottom of the seventh, Hannah Adams led off the inning with a solo HR and the Gators tied the game on a wild pitch to send the game to extra innings. UK 2, UF 2
 
In the top of the ninth, Renee Abernathy walked to lead off the inning and Miranda Stoddard reached on an error to put two in scoring position with no outs. Gator pitcher Katie Chronister entered to face Rylea Smith, who singled through the left side to score Abernathy, and another Gator error played Stoddard to push across the two deciding runs. FINAL – #9 Kentucky 4, #5 Florida 2
 
For the latest on UK Softball, follow the Wildcats on Twitter and Instagram at @UKSoftball.
 

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