Martens Sets Record As Kentucky Run-Rules Its Way To Supers
LEXINGTON, Ky.-- Kentucky second baseman Alex Martens quietly batted cleanup for the Wildcats this season behind and in the shadows of a talented senior class.
On Championship Sunday against the Virginia Tech Hokies, Martens stepped into the spotlight for the Wildcats (36-22) in an 11-1, run-ruled, victory that sent them to their third straight Super Regional and seventh in nine years.
In the process, she claimed a piece of history, with a little help from her senior teammates.
In the top of the 3rd inning, with Kentucky leading 1-0 after Jenny Schaper's leadoff home run, Katie Reed and Abbey Cheek kept the hits rolling and put two runners on the bags for Martens. The Illinois native smashed a double up the middle scoring both.
The runs put Kentucky up 3-0 and netted Martens her 62nd and 63rd RBIs of the season, breaking the Kentucky record for most in a season, but to hear Martens tell it, the accomplishment is a matter of circumstance.
"I have to give all that credit if you look at the stats and the numbers for this team, the numbers are directly changing and growing, and it has to do with them getting on base," said Martens. "The amount of times they get on base, that's how RBIs happen. So I have to give all the credit to them for their on-base percentages and batting averages."
To punctuate her big day at-bat, she finished 3-of-4, Martens crushed a three-run blast in the 6th through a fierce wind that robbed both teams of big hits.
Naturally, Martens stayed humble when discussing her 13th homer of the year.
"Somebody hit one--I think left field with the wind blowing--the ball is going that way when it shifts, maybe the wind's not blowing," she suggested.
Humes Dazzles in the Circle
With a name that conjures up memories of a pleasantly cool time of year, Kentucky pitcher Autumn Humes threw the ball with a scorching intensity befitting the hot weekend weather.
The junior from Bald Knob, Arkansas pitched all six innings for the regional hosts, allowing just one run on five hits, but the run, a solo homer to Tech's Kelsey Bennet, cut Kentucky's lead to 3-1 in the 4th inning.
During the regular season, Humes was prone to giving up big hits that snowballed into an avalanche for opposing teams, but so far this postseason she has been rock steady.
Going back to the SEC Tournament, Humes has given up only three runs in her last 20.2 innings pitched, so what's the difference between now and then?
"One thing that I've really focused on, especially in the last two weeks--since our offense has obviously been on fire--if the other team, like today they got a bit hit, a home run, I just had to forget it. Honestly, people are like 'What are you thinking when someone hits a home run?', and nowadays I'm just trying to forget it and move on to the next pitch," Humes said.
Staying within the moment and in what she does best is the advice head Coach Rachel Lawson gave Humes before her most significant start of the season.
"So we always sit down with each other and talk through the opposing team's lineup, and kind of what the gameplan is. A lot of the time she tells me to stick with what I'm good at, spinning the ball. I'm not the type of pitcher who is going to overpower anyone with speed," Humes said.
Hokies Head Back to Blacksburg with Heads High
The Virginia Tech Hokies had one of the best seasons in program history, finishing the season 47-11 and winning the ACC regular season championship.
That's what the Hokies head coach, Pete D'Amour, chose to focus on following his team's disappointing defeat.
"I got hired a little over a year ago and inherited a program that won 23 games, and we won 47. After the initial shock of the loss wore off, I looked back, and there are a lot of things to build off next year," he said.
The Hokies return two 20-game winners next season, Carrie Eberle and Keely Rochard, as well as most of a powerful hitting lineup, lending power to D'Amour words of "We'll get em' next year."