Cats knock out Spartans 7-2, 14-4 in first of three doubleheader days


Kentucky freshman Rylea Smith hits the ball during the game against Marshall on Wednesday, March 11, 2020, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 16-15. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Eric Decker

Rachel Lawson and her No. 12 ranked Wildcats took care of business to begin their weekend trip in North Carolina, snagging both ends of a doubleheader versus UNC Greensboro. Kentucky swiped game one 7-2, and claimed game two by an even more impressive 14-4 margin.

Through three innings, the Cats had only one hit, which was a single from Kayla Kowalik to lead off the game. They got things going in the fourth though, as Lauren Johnson ripped a two-RBI triple into left-center, scoring Miranda Stoddard and Erin Coffel for the first two runs of the day.

Coffel, who was named the National Freshman of the Week by D1Softball after her debut series against Samford, kept things rolling in the fifth with a double that brought in Rylea Smith. Back-to-back home runs from Mallory Peyton and Stoddard later in the frame then pushed Kentucky’s lead up to six.

Smith then ripped the first home run of her career to center an inning later, rounding out game one’s Wildcat scoring.

Grace Baalman toed the rubber for the early contest, and picked up her second win of the season. The senior from Hardin, Illinois pitched six innings, allowing just three hits along the way. Two of those came on back-to-back solo shots from the Spartans in the bottom of the sixth, which represented their only runs.

Kentucky decided to take over a little quicker in game two, essentially sending the game out of reach from the jump with a nine-run second inning. Renee Abernathy – who hit two long balls in the game – kicked off the scoring with a solo shot. She added another RBI via bases-loaded walk later in the inning, which brought Autumn Humes to the plate. The fifth-year senior finished the onslaught with a grand slam, her second home run of the season, putting her in great position to notch her third win in three outings.

UNC Greensboro immediately responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame, marking the first time Humes had been roughed up in the circle. The Spartan hopes for a comeback were quickly extinguished though after Coffel ripped a two-run homer in the top of the third.

Humes lasted only three innings, but it proved to be enough for the win. Two innings of one-run ball from Stephanie Schoonover completed the Cats’ second run-rule victory of the year.

Looking to continue their scorching start, Kentucky plays four more games this weekend in the 2021 Campbell Invitational. They begin with a 2:00 p.m. E.T. start against North Carolina Central University on Saturday.