Kentucky softball sweeps doubleheader; improves to 3-0 on season


Kentucky Wildcat freshman Stephanie Schoonover (23) pitches during the UK vs. Morehead State game on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, at Cropp Softball Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 13-1. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke

No. 19 Kentucky swept its doubleheader on Friday in Leesburg, Florida, improving to 3-0 on the season.

UK won by a combined margin of 8-1, first shutting out Michigan State 5-0, then defeating No. 24 Liberty 3-1 shortly after.

The Wildcats turned to sophomore Stephanie Schoonover in the circle first against the Spartans, and the right-handed pitcher proved to be up to the task. Pitching a complete-game shutout, Schoonover allowed just three hits in seven innings.

Schoonover recorded six strikeouts in the winning effort, walking only one batter and throwing 113 pitches.

Against Liberty, the Cats would turn to freshman olympian Alexia Lacatena to start, and while she only pitched four innings, she claimed victory in her first collegiate game.

Lacatena recorded five strikeouts with one walked batter and just one hit allowed in her outing. She threw 53 pitches before leaving the game.

For relief, the Wildcats turned to another freshman, Izzy Harrison, to take over for Lacatena.

Harrison pitched 1.1 innings, recording no strikeouts and allowing one hit and one earned run.

Attempting to prevent a momentum shift for the Flames, Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson pulled Harrison in favor of Miranda Stoddard, who pitched a complete game the day prior in UK’s win against Wisconsin. Stoddard also played third base against Michigan State.

Stoddard, while in the circle when Liberty tied the game 1-1, pitched 1.2 innings, closing out the game with no hits allowed and no earned runs on the box score. She also walked one batter and recorded a strikeout. 

On the hitting front, senior outfielder Renee Abernathy continued to add RBIs to her total after recording two against Wisconsin the day prior, adding three more against Michigan State.

Her first two came from a triple down the line that scored Lauren Johnson and Kayla Kowalik, before Abernathy herself was batted in by Emmy Blane. Though overall she went 1-3 at the plate, Abernathy secured the third RBI with a groundout to second base that allowed Johnson to score for a second time.

Kowalik also had a strong showing against Michigan State, going 3-4 with one RBI. She also reached home plate twice, once off of Abernathy’s triple, and the other from a sacrifice fly by Erin Coffel.

Coffel herself made the biggest headlines, winning the game for Kentucky against Liberty. 

After the Flames had tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth inning, Coffel, last year’s home run leader for the Cats, hit a two-run bomb to left field, scoring both herself and Johnson. The shot marked the first home-run of the season for Kentucky.

While going a combined 3-7 in both games, Johnson reached home plate every time she got on base, scoring twice against the Spartans and once against Liberty.

The Cats remain undefeated, now over halfway through the Northern Lights Southern Lights Tournament. They will return to action tomorrow, Saturday Feb. 12, to battle the Iowa Hawkeyes. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 10 a.m. EST.