No. 8 Kentucky blanked 3-0 at home by Ohio State


Kentucky infielder Alexia Lacatena (35) makes a throw to first base during the UK vs. Oklahoma softball game on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Oklahoma won 9-1. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Ian Alvano

Lexie Handley was the star of the show for Ohio State after her strong performance led the Buckeyes to a 3-0 victory over Kentucky on Tuesday night in Lexington.  

The Wildcats were unable to get a run on the board, as Handley proved to be a problem for the UK offense. Handley, Ohio State’s starter, recorded a complete-game shutout, giving up five hits and striking out 11 Cats.  

The Buckeyes are 12-3 in the month of March, having now won seven of their last eight improving to 21-6 (2-1) on the year. No. 8 Kentucky falls to 22-8 (3-3) on the season. This was the first regular season matchup between both teams since 2011.  

Alexia Lacatena started the game in the circle for Kentucky. Lacatena was 6-1 on the year with a 3.03 ERA before she faced off with the Buckeyes.  

Sam Hackenbracht got the party started for Ohio State in the top of the first, with her deep solo shot to center making it 1-0.  

In the nine hole, Melina Wilkison homered to a similar spot in deep center, which scored Taylor Pack and the Buckeyes led 3-0 in the top of the second.  

After Wilkison’s home run, both offenses struggled for the rest of the night.  

The top of the third saw two defensive changes for UK. Tatum Spangler replaced Lacatena in the circle after giving up the pair of homers. Kayla Kowalik also replaced Hallie Mitchell behind the dish. Kowalik was in the lineup but was only batting as the designated player before the switch.  

UK head coach Rachel Lawson said after the game that Kowalik did not start as catcher because she wanted to give her rest.  

“Kayla’s been catching a lot, and it’s really tough, because we go down to LSU and then we have Louisville next week. She stayed in the lineup, which is nice, but any time you have a catcher that’s catching all the games that’s rough. Plus, I really like Hallie Mitchell, I think she’s an outstanding player and the only way you can get to be better is to get some experience,” Lawson said.  

Perhaps the only positive takeaway from the game was Spangler’s performance in relief.  

She kept UK in the game after a five-inning scoreless performance, where she gave up four hits and struck out three Buckeyes.  

Spangler spoke about her confidence after another strong relief performance, as well as coming in the game early after Lacatena’s struggles.  

“I just wanted to be there for (Lacatena). I know how it feels to not get in a groove, but I just wanted her to trust me that I had her back I wanted the team to trust me, and I think that’s what we’re doing, and we just need to stick to our gameplan and trying to get what we can for LSU,” she said. 

The offensive woes continued for UK in the bottom of the fourth and fifth, as it failed to get a runner on base in either inning.  

With Spangler dealing, Kentucky threatened in the bottom of the sixth.  


Rylea Smith got on to lead off the inning after an Ohio State error. Smith stole second while SEC Co-Player of the Week Renee Abernathy was up to bat. Abernathy doubled and the Wildcats had two on with one out, down three runs.  

Lauren Johnson then lined out, and pinch hitter Kennedy Sullivan struck out, ending the threat and the inning. This would prove to be UK’s last legitimate chance to get runs back.  

There was no rally in the bottom of the seventh, and Ohio State took the midweek game 3-0. Kentucky stranded six batters against the Buckeyes.  


The difficult matchups do not come to an end for the Wildcats, as they travel to Baton Rouge for a weekend series against No. 22 LSU where they look to get back to winning ways. Game one is set for Friday, April 1 at 7 p.m. EST.