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No. 22 Kentucky softball falls short in final home series against South Carolina

Christian Kantosky
Kentucky pitcher Sydney Langdon (33) pitches the ball during the No. 21 Kentucky vs. Bellarmine softball match on Wednesday, March 6, 2024 at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 3-1. Photo by Christian Kantosky | Staff

No. 22 Kentucky softball ( 30-18, 8-13 SEC) lost two out of three games to the unranked South Carolina Gamecocks (32-18, 8-13 SEC) in its final home series of the season.

The Wildcats struggled mightily in terms of hitting the ball all series, and it showed as they recorded just five hits in games one and three, and seven hits in game two, almost exclusively in the sixth inning.

Game one would see the Gamecocks get off to a hot start, going up 1-0 in the first inning, followed by three more runs in the second inning. 

The Wildcats, having their backs against the wall, responded in the third as Erin Coffel advanced home off a fielding error by South Carolina.

After another run by South Carolina in the fourth, the Cats’ hitting woes continued, failing to score again until the seventh inning, where Jaden Vickers grounded out to send Peyton Plotts home. Kentucky would go on to lose the game 5-2.

Game two was much of the same for Kentucky, as it once again trailed to start the game, falling behind 1-0 in the top of the second inning.

Both teams from this point forward were held scoreless until the sixth inning and that’s when the momentum began to rapidly shift.

The Wildcats had numerous points in the game where they looked like they were about to finally erupt until Grace Lorsung hit a double to start the sixth inning.

The rest of the team would follow as Kentucky began to go nuclear, with Lorsung being sent home off of a fielding error on a grounder by Vickers.

A double by Vanessa Nesby would then send Vickers home, giving the Cats the lead.

Kentucky would extend its lead to 3-1 after Nesby was sent home from a triple to right center field by Riley Smith that was mere inches shy of being a home run.

“I actually felt no pressure because we were winning, and I just already knew what I was going to do,” Smith said.

Stephanie Schoonover would ice the game in the seventh, completing the comeback victory 3-1. 

The third and final game of the series was now a winner take all, and South Carolina would quickly strike first with two home runs in the first inning, taking the lead 2-0.

Kentucky was never able to recover from the initial onslaught, as its hitting woes continued, leading to a 3-0 defeat.

Despite the loss, coach Rachel Lawson had nothing but praise for the seniors on the team who just played their last ever home games. 

“Four 30-win seasons in a row and we’re not the committee, but we believe we’re on track to go to another postseason. They’ve done it every time they’ve been in Lexington,” Lawson said. “To be able to hold the line like that during such a change in college athletics has been huge for the Wildcats.” 

Kentucky will travel to Knoxville, Tennessee, on Thursday, May 2, where it will begin its final series of the regular season against No. 3 Tennessee, beginning at 7 p.m. ET at Sherri Parker Lee Stadium.

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