No. 8 Kentucky sweeps No. 20 LSU in comeback fashion

Aaron Benjamin

No. 8 Kentucky claimed a 5-3 win on Sunday afternoon, sweeping the three-game series against No. 20 LSU in Baton Rouge.  

The Cats took up their bats first with senior Kayla Kowalik, who led both the SEC and the NCAA power five in batting average last year, lining a single into left field. That would be complemented by a single to left center by junior Rylea Smith which would advance Kowalik to second.  

Sophomore infielder Erin Coffel would then ground into a fielder’s choice to the shortstop who threw to third for the out. Following that, center fielder Renee Abernathy would single to center and load the bases with one down. No damage would be done however, with Owensboro, Kentucky native Lauren Johnson flying out to left and junior Miranda Stoddard grounding out to the LSU pitcher Raelin Chaffin.  

In the bottom of the first, Kentucky would take the field behind pitcher Stephanie Schoonover. Leading off for LSU would be Danieca Coffey, who would walk. Ciara Briggs would step into the box next and single to left to put runners on first and second. Taylor Pleasants would look to get on base like her teammates, but would strike out.

Georgia Clark would then ground out to first but advance the runners. Pitcher Shelbi Sunseri would look to plate the runners but was unsuccessful as she would pop out to third base.  

Starting the top of the second would be multi-position player Tatum Spangler, who reached on a scoring error, then advancing to second. From there, freshman Taylor Ebbs would fly out to center field, junior Emmy Blane would ground out to first, and Kowalik would ground it right to the shortstop to end the half inning.  

To start off the bottom of the second, Ali Newland singled up the middle, only to be followed by utility player Baylea Brandon striking out. Catcher Morgan Cummins would look to put the first run of the game up but only came up with a single. Infielder Sydney Peterson would then reach on a fielder’s choice which would end with Cummins being out.

With Peterson stealing second and putting runners on second and third, Coffey would walk and Newland would score on a wild pitch. The inning would end with Coffey being thrown out at second. 

Down 1-0, the Wildcats would look to strike in the third. The start looked promising, as the outfielder Smith would single up the middle. After a Coffelfly out and a Renee Abernathy strike out, the Cats were down to their last out. Johnson would single and provide some hope, but that would end with a Stoddard popup.   

As for the Tigers, they would look to extend their lead and pull away. Briggs would strikeout to start the inning and then a Taylor Pleasants walk and a Georgia Clark single would give LSU runners. Nothing would materialize as Sunseri and Newland would foul out and line out to end the inning.  

To start the fourth, Spangler would once again would reach again on an error. An Ebbs single would put two runners on without an out. Senior Kennedy Sullivan would then record a sacrifice fly to center field , moving Spangler over to third. Pinch runner Vanessa Nesby stole second.

Back to the top of the lineup, Kowalik would record the second out on a popup to first base. Smith then put UK on the board with a single scoring Spangler and advancing Nesby. Coffel would cease the inning with a fly out.  

Tied at 1-1, LSU would come back up to bat. Brandon would walk and force freshman Alexia Lacatena to come in and take over on the bump.She would start off well with 2 K’s, before a wild pitch would send Brandon to second. Coffey would ground out to second to end the inning.  

Still deadlocked at 1, Kentucky would look to be the first to break the tie. The center fielder Abernathy would not start off well with a ground out, but Johnson would single to left center and then advance to second on a wild pitch. The inning would end on a Stoddard strike out and a Spangler infield pop up. No runs would be produced.  

The Tigers would come up in the bottom of the fifth. To start the half inning, Briggs and Pleasant would fly out and pop up. Clark would provide a spark with a double which combined with a Sunseri walk would look promising. However, Newalnd’s flyout would end any chance of scoring.   

Kentucky would come back up in the sixth and started off with a JaciBabbs single to left. From there would be a sequence of fielder’s choice groundouts that would out Babbs and Margaret Tobias, advancing nobody. After Kowalik reached, she would steal second. After a pitching change from Chaffin to Sunseri, Smith would ground out to end the half inning.  

The LSU bottom half of the inning would get going with a Brandon popup out. Next, Cummins would get hit by the Lacatena pitch and get a pinch runner. Jordyn Perkins would fly out to right field. From there, LSU would record two straight RBI doubles to put the Tigers up 3-1. This would force Spangler to take the mound and try to stop the scoring. She would as Pleasants would sky one to right field and find herself out.  

In the top of the seventh, UK would need to put up at least two runs to tie it or else LSU would take the win. Starting the inning off right was Coffel who was then brought home on an Abernathy double to cut the deficit in half. 

Johnson would stunt the scoring with a flyout to left. After that, Stoddard would single and move Abernathy to third and closer to tying the game. Spangler’s ground out to the pitcher would put the comeback at risk. However, sophomore Meeko Harrison would come in clutch with a 2 RBI single up the middle scoring Stoddard and Abernathy. To keep the inning going, Tobias would reach on an LSU error which would move Harrison to third.

Another fielding error for the Tigers would help Kowalik reach base and would advance Tobias and score the difference maker Harrison. A Smith fly out would end the four-run, four-hit inning for the Cats.   

Down to its last three outs, LSU would need to do the same as Kentucky in the top half and score at least two to tie the game and put it into extra innings. A Clark fly out would please UK fans, but another Sunseri walk would put the dugout on edge. Newland would then reach but at the cost of another out. A McKenzie Redoutey would strikeout on a full count and that would end the game.  

The Wildcats Spangler would gain the win and push her record to 4-0. The Tigers Sunseri would record a loss, pushing her below .500 at a record of 5-6.   

Next for Kentucky, the Cats will travel to Louisville to take on their in-state rival on Wednesday. The game is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. from Ulmer Stadium in Louisville, Kentucky and can be found on TV on ESPNU.