The Kentucky Wildcats fell to the California Golden Bears 1-0 today at the Kentucky softball complex in Lexington. Joleen Henderson for the Golden Bears pitched a 1-hit shutout in a stellar pitching duel.
Kentucky's Chanda Bell also pitched a very good game but for one pitch she got up in the strike zone and Frannie Echavarria got all of it and hit her first home run of the season, which represented the only scoring in the game. Kentucky did a poor job of hitting the ball, in no small part due to the placement of the ball by Joleen Henderson, who has an impossible-to-believe 0.8 ERA and has won 38 games. Henderson did not overpower Kentucky (only 4 strikeouts vs. Bell's 8) but she made no mistakes and kept the ball low in the strike zone and on the edges all day.
Cal also did an excellent job on the base paths, although it didn't produce any scoring for them. Kentucky, meanwhile, played less than stellar defense, allowing a couple of balls to get out of the infield and making 1 throwing error that fortunately didn't result in a score. All in all, though, the Kentucky offense, which has been so potent this year, was held completely in check by a combination of Henderson's well-placed pitches and what appeared to me to be an incoherent hitting strategy. Perhaps the size of the stage finally got to them a bit.
Regardless, tomorrow's first game at 1:00 PM is an elimination game for UK, but will have the Wildcats as the home team hitting in the bottom of the innings, and hopefully that combined with the experience of a tough loss to an outstanding opponent will focus their minds and get them to the rubber match in the evening.