Kentucky softball sweeps second doubleheader of season; outscores opponents 30-6


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. 16 Kentucky softball (6-1) swept its second doubleheader of the season on Friday, outscoring its opponents 30-6.

The doubleheader saw the Wildcats duel UC Santa Barbara first at noon, followed by a game against Loyola Marymount shortly after.

First, against the Gauchos of UCSB, Kentucky won 23-0, securing a new record for runs scored in a single game, which also doubled as the largest shutout in program history.

The lopsided win came primarily from a 10-run third inning that featured two earned runs from walks, and a two-run homerun by senior catcher Kayla Kowalik.

Kowalik, who finished the season prior with a batting average of .495, returned to form against UCSB, going 4-4 with two RBIs, a triple and a homerun.

She was not the only Wildcat to hit one deep, with Lauren Johnson, Victoria Fragoso, and Meeko Harrison also hitting homers in the winning effort.

In the circle for Kentucky, sophomore Stephanie Schoonover pitched her second complete game shutout of the season, after also leading the Cats to a 7-0 win over Michigan State in the Northern Lights Southern Nights Tournament one week prior.

Schoonover threw 79 pitches to 17 batters over the course of five innings, recording seven strikeouts for a 0.78 ERA in the process.

The right-handed pitcher did not allow a hit in the ballgame, with only three batters reaching base for the Gauchos, two from walks and one from a HBP.

In the second game of the day against LMU, Kentucky won 7-6 in eight innings, its first extra-inning game of the season.

Junior Miranda Stoddard started in the circle for Kentucky, though she would only pitch 2.2 innings before being pulled after LMU scored four runs in the third inning. 

Stoddard finished the game with six hits allowed, five runs allowed, two wild-pitches and no strikeouts.

In relief, Kennedy Sullivan took the rubber, going on to pitch 4.2 innings, allowing just one run, with no earned runs against her and one strikeout.

Entering extra-innings, Kentucky opted to replace Sullivan with freshman Olympian Alexia Lacatena who, despite only facing three batters, earned the win for Kentucky, striking out one batter and not allowing a run, which led to the Cats’ eventual walk-off victory.

On offense, Erin Coffel added another homerun to UK’s total for the day, hitting a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth that would ultimately force the extra-innings.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Stoddard hit a sacrifice fly to score Erica Thulen, tying the game at 6-6 after the Lions scored a run in the top of the inning.

With the game tied, junior out-fielder Rylea Smith doubled to center field, scoring Tatum Spangler and securing the walk-off victory for Kentucky.

The Wildcats play another doubleheader tomorrow, Saturday, Feb. 19, against Long Beach State and No. 11 Arizona as part of the 2022 Hillenbrand Invitational in Tucson, Arizona. The game against LBSU is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. EST with the subsequent ranked matchup taking place in its aftermath, currently scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.