The Cats raced to what appeared to be a commanding 7-0 lead on the strength of home runs by Emily Gaines, Ginny Carroll and Krystal Smith and the starting pitching of Kelsey Nunley. But the UK ace, who had thrown every pitch for the Cats in the NCAA Tournament, started showing signs of fatigue late in the game and her defense committed two costly errors that helped open the door for the Bears' comeback.
No. 13 Baylor (49-15) got a double from Kaitlyn Thumann in the eighth inning. She came around to score the winning run on the second UK error of the game, a mishandled throw after a bunt, sending the Bears into a wild celebration and prompting tears from the stunned Wildcats.
Nunley, who had allowed only three hits into the sixth inning, gave up six during Baylor's rally to pull within 7-3. Ari Hawkins then led off the seventh with a home run to left field to pull the Bears within three. After an error that cut the margin to two, Robin Landrith ripped a two-out, two-run double to tie it and send the game into extra innings.
UK head coach Rachel Lawson drew criticism for opting against lifting Nunley (30-11) in favor of a relief pitcher during Baylor's comeback.
"At one point, I thought about putting one of our other pitchers in, but really, the mistake with me is that I didn't prepare them to come in," she said. "The reason I went with Kelsey is because I'm comfortable. A change would have been great, but it would have been too unpredictable."
Despite the disappointing finish, No. 14 Kentucky (50-19) set a school record for wins in reaching the WCWS for the first time in program history.