9:40- UK WINS 3-2 IN THE 8TH INNING It was a bleak outlook for the Cats after falling down two runs in the first inning for the second time today. With their backs against the wall, they never quit fighting, finally taking advantage of scoring opportunities late in the game to give them the win in extra innings. Kelsey Nunley's pitching efforts should be commended. Christian Stokes' clutch at-bats will give them the chance to fight another day. They'll have a rematch with Utah tomorrow at 1:00. Until then, it's time to celebrate. 9:33- The Cats loaded the bases, but grounded out to end the inning. Kelsey Nunley needs to continue to groove for three more outs to live to die another day. 9:29- THE CATS HAVE THE LEAD! Christian Stokes, the tying run in the seventh, hit a deep ball over the right fielder, sending a runner home to take the lead. They could've scored another with an errant throw home, but the base-runner was stopped at third. 9:26- Well, this sucks. A soft hit went right back to the pitcher. She caught it and turned two by throwing it to first. The winning run is still on second, but they've only got one out to get her home. 9:22- The 8th begins with a liner up the middle from Abbey Cheek. Following her hit, a bunt was dropped. The Illini made an attempt to throw Cheek out at second. She wasn't there in time, but the ump said her foot left the bag. Runners are now on first and second with zero outs. 9:18- Kelsey Nunley had THREE strikeouts in the bottom of the seventh to take this game into extra innings. FREE SOFTBALL! And a Tweet worth sharing: https://twitter.com/NCAAsoftball/status/734190503659331584 9:09- A line drive is hit right at the right-fielder, bringing the top of the seventh to a close. If Samuel would've been called safe, the Cats could've easily got the winning run. But if 'ifs' and 'buts' were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas. 9:06- FRESHMAN KATIE REED WITH AN RBI SINGLE. THE GAME IS TIED!!!!!!! 9:05- The bunt attempt was popped up, putting Sylver Samuel to the plate. She slapped herself into position to get an infield single, but then a questionable call. Not only did it look like the first baseman pulled her foot, it looked like Samuel beat the throw. Rachel Lawson lost her mind on the umpire, but the call stands. A runner is on second with two outs. 9:02- Christian Stokes starts the inning with an infield single. The tying run is in play. 8:59- After a quick 1,2,3 inning, the Cats need one run to advance with three seniors up to the plate. LET'S GOOOOOOO! 8:53- After a subpar inning, the Cats are down to their final three outs on offense. They can't surrender anything in the bottom of the sixth if they hope to put together a comeback. 8:44- Abbey Cheek's hard-hit grounder up the middle looked like it had the chance to be a double and potentially drive-in the tying run. Instead, the pitcher made a fantastic move to end the inning on a double play. The Cats are starting to run out of opportunities. 8:38- On an unrelated note, Johnny Manzeil got kicked out of a Vegas club last night because of course he did. TMZ Sports got a low-quality video of him in a scuffle after Drake arrived for a surprise performance. On a related note, the Cats had a great defensive inning, going 1,2,3 quickly. 8:33- Silver Samuel nearly drove in a run, but she was beaten by a half-step for the third out. The Cats leave two stranded, down 2-1 entering the bottom of the fourth. 8:27- THE CATS ARE ON THE BOARD. Jenny Schaper began the inning with a single. A bunt moved the pinch-runner to second, Nunley's groundout moved her to third before Christian Stokes drove in the Wildcats' first run of the game with a hit just out of the second baseman's reach. 8:15- Nikki Sagermann's hard-hit line drive went right by the pitcher, but that was the only thing doing in the top of the third inning. 8:11- SPILL IN THE PRESS BOX! Dick Gabriel's coffee took a tumble in the middle of the action. Luckily it didn't spill on the radio equipment, sliding down the back of the desk instead. It was a close call, narrowly avoiding a disaster. Drew Franklin experienced something when a he spilled a Diet Coke at the Final Four, except in Drew's case it destroyed his Macbook. 8:03- The coach of the Fighting Illini is Tyra Perry. You've probably seen her before. 7:58- UK's offense showed a few sparks in the top of the second. A controversial call at second played a part in prematurely ending the inning, one that left two Wildcat runners stranded on base. 7:49- Nunley stops the bleeding, ending the inning with a swinging strikeout. 7:46- After loading the bases with a HBP, Prince walks Emily Brooner, giving the Illini their second run of the inning. The first inning is looking a lot like the first inning against Utah. They need only one out to get out of that inning, and they're going to try to do it with Kelsey Nunley as the pitcher. 7:40- After bunting the runner to third, Nicole Evans hit one over the shortstop's head to drive in a run for a 1-0 advantage with only one out in the first inning. 7:37- As soon as I finished typing that last entry, she gives up a lead-off double. Come. ON. 7:36- Now that I let that off my chest, I should tell you that Meagan Prince, the pitcher from today's first game, is back
3:59- The Cats' rally falls short. They managed to get two runners on with two outs, but a late pitching change got them the final out. The Cats only had four hits on the day, failing to string together offense consistently. Utah's first inning two-run homer from Anissa Urtez was more than enough offense for the Utes to advance to tomorrow's regional final. The Hittin' Kittens will play later tonight against the winner of Illinois-Butler, if the weather holds out. We'll keep you posted right here. 3:45- Cats need three runs in the bottom of the seventh to stay in the game. RALLY TIME! 3:42- UK falls down 3-0 on the squeeze bunt. The play at the plate was just behind the runner, but they did manage to make the throw down to first for the out. Unfortunately, I think this run might be the dagger from the Utes. 3:38- Uh oh. This one's look bad. Utah begins the 7th inning with a leadoff triple. Ouch. It's gonna take a lot for the Cats to overcome this. 3:29- The rain is still falling, and it's beginning to get colder. I shouldn't have left my KSR pullover in the car. 3:18- Well that was a disaster. After Abbey Cheek's leadoff double, she got caught in a pickle. After she was tagged out, Jenny Schaper got in a rundown between first and second, tagged out for a double play. And I thought I liked pickles. They must not have watched film. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbqY-zdvmoo A promising start to the inning has ended in disaster for the Wildcats. 3:10- After walking a batter, Nunley helped herself by diving for an out an an attempted bunt. One hell of a catch. The Cats will go to the bottom of the fifth needing some offense, down 2-0. 3:03- This Utah pitcher is pretty damn good. Only one hit for UK on the day heading into the fifth inning. It's gotta be the facemask. 2:46- Even though it was another quick inning, UK has been putting solid contact on the ball. They've got a couple good hits to the outfield, they're just hitting it right at the Utah defense. 2:42- Nunley's fourth walk of the game loaded the bases, but she got the next batter to fly out to centerfield to get out of the jam. 2:35- Something you on't see everyday -- A Ute attempted to bunt down the first base line. UK's Maisie Reed was charging, but she almost came in too hot. The ball popped up over her head in foul territory, but Reed was a bee to recover, jumping backwards for the out. 2:30- UK's half inning of offense might've gone by even faster with three quick outs to advance to the inning No. 3, trailing 2-0. 2:25- That was a quickie. Three up, three down for the Utes as we head to the bottom of the second. 2:18- The Cats began with promise. Silver Samuel slapped an infield single, then was bunted to second. However, her fast feet got her into trouble, ending the inning on a pick-off at third base. 2:08- The Utes strike first. Nunley left one too high for Anissa Urtez, and she took advantage of it BOMBING a two-run homer over the left field wall. 2:04- For game two the Cats have their ace, Kelsey Nunley. She begins the game by throwing a screwball for a swinging strikeout. 2:01- The Hittin' Kittens second game is a rematch with Utah, winning the last game on a walk-off passed ball. 1:55- The tarp is off the field and the Cats will take on the Utes as the home team, starting at 2:00. Stay tuned for updates from John Cropp.
12:59- The game ends with a STRIKE OUT. The Cats win 6-1 to advance to play Utah in the second round of the regional. We are currently in a weather delay with the tarp coming onto the field. Hopefully we can get going again in an hour or so. Until then, check out this SportsCenter Top Ten-worthy highlight from today's win: 12:55- Butler has finally put a run on the scoreboard. The second of consecutive doubles was a hard line drive down the third baseline from Alyssa Lock. It's probably a little too late though with two outs in the top of the seventh. 12:47- You couldn't pay me to play first or third base. I am terrified just seeing how close they are playing to the batter. My reactions are so slow, if a ball was hit toward my face, it would be crushed. There's no way around it. It was a timely taken photo. As soon as this pitch was delivered, Samuel had her RBI hit in the gap up the middle. 12:43- UK adds another one. Silver Samuel slaps one between second and short in the gap to knock in a run and give the Cats a 6-0 advantage. 12:35- THAT'S HOW YOU END AN INNING. UK just pulled off a 3-6-3 double-play, only their 11th of the year. Sofa king awesome. My reaction: 12:31- The rain continues to fall at John Cropp Stadium, but it hasn't dampened the spirits of one excited UK fan behind home plate. When this woman cheers, you hear her. "LET'S GOOOOOOO UK!" and "OHHHHHHH YEAH!" are her favorites, but the one that made me laugh the most was, "THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKIN' ABOUT!" after Abbey Cheeks' deep double. 12:24- So close. Brooklin Hinz just hit a ball over the moon, just short of clearing the retaining fence that's more than 50 feet behind the ballpark wall. Unfortunately, the two-run shot was ruled just foul. Still, that hit had me like... 12:22- Jenny Schaper knocks in two. The UK catcher hit a deep line drive off the centerfield wall to knock in two runs to build their lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the fifth. Schafer remains on first with one out. 12:18- Abbey Cheek comes in with a hard-hit ball to left field, good for a one-out double to put two runners in scoring position. 12:11- Good news; the rain didn't last long and Butler is back on the field to warm up for the bottom of the fifth. 12:02- The rain picked up and we're in another rain delay as UK heads to the bottom of the fifth. 12:00- It started raining again. I blame these guys. 11:53- After a leadoff double from Brooklin Hinz, slap-hitter Sylver Samuel hit into a fielders choice on a 3-2 count with two outs to end the bottom of the fourth with two runners stranded. 11:37- UK pitcher Megan Prince just called time to put her sunglasses in the dugout. Dick Gabriel had a Roush-like cheeseball response, "She doesn't need them on a day like today, but I must say, they are very stylish." 11:31- UK's Katie Reed reached first on a bunt, then stole second, her 12th steal of the year. There's only one out left to get her home. 11:27- A quick 1,2,3 inning. The Cats are back to bat under the cloudy sky. I'm doing my best to not mention the weather, because as soon as I said, "At least it's not raining," it began raining just before the first pitch. 11:22- SCORE ONE FOR THE CATS. With two strikes and two outs, the Butler catcher tried to pick off the UK runner on second base. The throw missed and went into the outfield. UK's Steed went all the home. She didn't beat the throw but she beat the tag. An exciting exchange to start the day for the UK offense. 11:12- My seat for this game is in the UK radio booth with Dick Gabriel and Chris Scholz. As a radio play-by-play nerd, I couldn't have picked a better seat. It's also beneficial because I don't think I would know what's going on if I didn't have Dick in the same room. 11:07- A strikeout was followed by a groundout to home, then a three-pitch strikeout to help Prince get out of the bases-loaded jam. Not sure if the jam was strawberry or grape, but one thing is certain -- Butler's toast. 11:03- Butler began with a hit down the third baseline on UK's new pitcher, freshman Megan Prince. Softball gets a rap for being a pitcher's sport, but we're 30 seconds into my first game at John Cropp Stadium and the bases have just been loaded on a little dink near home plate. 11:00- The game vs. Butler picks up at the top of the second inning. UK has a 2-0 lead in some super fly gray uniforms, adorned with Secretariat's checkerboard on the shoulders. Butler is at bat with a 1-1 count, zero outs and a runner on second base.