Kentucky softball scores 12 unanswered runs to defeat Marshall


Kentucky junior Grace Baalman pitches 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

Barkley Truax

Two grand slams led No. 11 Kentucky to a 9-8 victory over Texas A&M on Monday. This time around, it was Marshall who hit two grand slams, but even still, it wasn’t enough to knock off the Wildcats.

In a matchup between two of the best offenses in the nation, Kentucky (20-4, 2-1 SEC) scored 12 unanswered runs, to come back against Marshall to win 16-15 at home.

“I was just really pleased with the team and how they fought back, how they answered back and we got contribution from so many different players to help this major comeback,” Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson said.

The Wildcats started the first inning slow. Tatum Spangler started at pitcher, giving up two home runs and ended the top of the first down 3-0. The Cats quickly countered by hitting a single that led to a run scored by Kayla Kowalik and another run by Rylea Smith off a Mallory Peyton single.

Grace Baalman came in at the top of the second at pitcher for Kentucky. Marshall’s first at bat homered between left and center field. It looked as though every other ball the Thundering Herd connected on went over the fence early on with three in the first two innings.

A double-play off a fly-ball from Kowalik ended the second with the Wildcats down 6-2.

For the third time in three innings, Kentucky switched its pitcher again, the first time it had to do this all season. This time it was senior Larissa Spellman taking the mound. 

Grand slams have been a common occurrence in John Cropp Stadium this week. The only difference between today and Monday’s game, the opposing team hit was at the plate. Marshall’s Saige Pye hit a bomb over left field, scoring four runs and extending their lead to eight going into the top of the third, 10-2. 

Spellman stayed in as Kentucky’s pitcher as the fourth inning began. With two outs and bases loaded for Marshall, Spellman’s pitch was hit into left field and over the fence by the Herd’s Sierra Huerta, their second grand slam of the night, 15-4 Marshall.

Kentucky tried to gain some momentum back in the bottom of the fourth with two RBI to go along with a Peyton triple into right center, cutting the lead to nine going into the fifth. 

The Wildcats shut Marshall down in the top of the fifth, but still needed two runs to keep the game going into the sixth inning. Kentucky was able to close the lead to five as bases were loaded and runs continued to pile up before the fifth inning came to an end.

Miranda Stoddard came into the game to pitch for Kentucky in the sixth. She allowed no runs despite the bases being loaded – a familiar sight for the Wildcats this game.

A lead-off triple by UK’s Lauren Johnson gave Kentucky life in the bottom of the sixth, followed by two doubles by Smith and Renee Abernathy, helping cut the Herd lead to two. With two outs for Kentucky, Stoddard was up to bat and hit a three-run home run to give the Wildcats their first lead of the night, 16-15 going into the seventh inning. 

The ball was hit toward left field and on a fifty-fifty call close to the foul line.

“I actually do think it was fair,” Coach Lawson said. “Because it was hit so high, it went past and hooked [fair] as it went past the foul pole. That’s one of the bummers with having a stadium like this is you can never really tell.”

Kentucky was able to hold the Herd scoreless in the seventh, which meant that the Wildcats were victorious after scoring twelve straight unanswered runs. 

The Wildcats play again this weekend for a series against Mississippi State in Starkville. The first game is this Friday at 7 p.m.