Kentucky Holds Off Late Butler Rally

Kentucky Holds Off Late Butler Rally
Maria Leichty (Photo by Brent Smith)

LEXINGTON, KY. -- Host Kentucky jumped to an 8-0 lead and then held off Butler's comeback attempt to post a 9-7 victory in the first game of the Kentucky Invitational on Friday (Feb. 28).  The Bulldogs will continue play in the tournament with a pair of games on Saturday (March 1).

The Wildcats (14-2) unleashed seven hits and eight runs in the first three innings to build a commanding lead.  Emily Jolly launched a two-run, home run to fuel a four-run rally in the second inning and Lauren Cumbess added a solo home run in the Wildcats' four-run third frame.

But the Bulldogs (4-10) started their comeback with three unearned runs in the fourth inning.  Chelsea Norwood, who had a two-out double, scored the first run on a bases-loaded error by the Wildcats.  Kristen Boros then scored on an illegal pitch and Krista Hakola scored the third on a wild pitch.

Butler then answered a single Kentucky run in the sixth inning with four runs on four hits in the top of the seventh frame.  Alex Kotter and Maria Leichty had RBIs in the inning and the Bulldogs plated two additional runs on Kentucky errors, before the Wildcats ended the rally.

Kotter had a pair of hits and scored one run in the game to pace the Bulldogs' offense.

Leah Bry (3-5), who earned BIG EAST Pitcher of the Week honors this week, started in the circle for the Bulldogs and took the loss.  She allowed five runs in two innings, before giving way to freshman Alie Tarrant.  Freshman Kacey Starwalt pitched the final three-and-a-third innings for the Bulldogs.

Butler will face Pittsburgh at 11 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, before meeting Eastern Kentucky at 1 p.m.