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No. 23 Kentucky softball wins four of five games in John Cropp Classic

Samuel Colmar
Kentucky shortstop Erin Coffel (21) hits the ball during the No. 21 Kentucky vs. No. 3 LSU softball match on Friday, March 8, 2024, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 6-2. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff

No. 23 Kentucky softball (19-8, 0-3 SEC) hosted the John Cropp Classic in Lexington, Kentucky, from Thursday, March 14-17, winning four of the five games. 

Three of the wins came by way of mercy rule in five innings.

The Wildcats’ first matchup in the classic saw them face off with the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on Thursday.

Freshman pitcher Sydney Langdon logged her third complete game of the year, allowing one hit while striking out five. 

Peyton Plotts hit her fifth home run while the Wildcats had six hits total, four of which went for extra bases. Sophomore Karissa Hamilton walked it off with a three-run home run, giving Kentucky the 8-0 victory.

The schedule originally had games for all four teams on Friday, but those games were pushed back to Saturday and Sunday due to inclement weather. 

Kentucky played a doubleheader on Saturday against Columbia and Ohio State. The team defeated the Columbia Lions 12-3 in five innings behind nine extra-base hits. 

Alexia Lacatena recorded her first win and complete game of the season, allowing four hits and three runs. 

The Wildcats’ offense chased Columbia starting pitcher Sarah Mikami after just four batters due to Ally Hutchins and Erin Coffel hitting back-to-back home runs, a Rylea Smith walk and a Grace Lorsung home run. 

Lily McCord would relieve Mikami and be introduced to the Wildcats offense by Taylor Ebbs with a double off the wall. 

McCord would allow nine hits and eight runs before being relieved by Charlotte Laidler who allowed only one hit and one walk to the Wildcats. 

Lacatena would allow a three-run home run before getting three straight outs, giving the Wildcats their second victory in the John Cropp Classic. 

The Wildcats and Ohio State Buckeyes faced off in Kentucky’s third game.

Graduate transfer Jaden Vickers would start in the circle for the Wildcats allowing three hits and four runs before being relieved by Langdon who struck out six and earned the win. 

Stephanie Schoonover would take over for Langdon in the circle after two walks. In the final inning, Schoonover walked one before getting two outs. 

She would walk the bases loaded but strike out Ohio State’s lead-off batter Tegan Cortelletti giving Kentucky the 9-4 win. 

Game four for Kentucky ended in five innings against the Columbia Lions for the second go-around.

Vickers made her second start of the tournament, throwing for five innings, allowing one hit and striking out four. 

The Kentucky offense would prove to be a hurdle for Columbia’s pitching staff and the team would notch five extra base hits while earning six walks. 

Vickers would spin a perfect top of the fifth inning to give Kentucky the 10-0 mercy rule win.

Kentucky and Ohio State would also face off again in the final game on Sunday.

Schoonover would start in the circle for Kentucky and take the loss after allowing six hits and seven runs. Kentucky would use four pitchers, with Vickers being the only one who does not allow a hit or run to the Buckeyes.

The Wildcats’ offense scratched across five hits and six runs. Smith went 2-4 with a triple and in the bottom of the third, and Plotts singled home two runners. 

Hallie Mitchell would then steal home on a successful double steal from the Wildcats to give Kentucky the 5-3 lead.

The sixth inning proved to be the difference in the game as the Buckeyes would score seven runs and then shut out Kentucky over the final two innings to give the Buckeyes a 12-6 victory. 

Kentucky returns to action at home against Marshall on Wednesday, March 20, at 6 p.m. ET.

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Samuel Colmar, Assistant Photo Editor

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