Kentucky softball splits doubleheader at Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic, reaches 10 wins on season


Kentucky Wildcat junior Kayla Kowalik (99) celebrates a base hit during the University of Kentucky vs. University of Georgia softball game on Monday, April 12, 2021, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. UK lost 5-2. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

Aaron Benjamin, Reporter

No. 18 Kentucky softball played a doubleheader on Saturday, losing to No. 17 Northwestern 9-3 and defeating UC-Riverside 3-0.

Both games were held at Fenway Field in Palm Springs, California, as part of the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic.

The first game against the fellow Wildcats started at 8:30 p.m. EST and Stephanie Schoonover got the start for Kentucky while Danielle Williams took the mound for Northwestern.

The latter would pitch all seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out seven. Schoonover would strike out four on her way to allowing two runs on three hits.

Kentucky got out to an early 2-0 lead in the second via an error after a Vanessa Nesby single scored Karissa Hamilton. On the next play Meeko Harrison would hit a sacrifice fly to center field, bringing Nesby home.

Northwestern would cut the lead in half in the next inning after a fielder’s choice saw Kelsey Nader cross home plate.

The third would see both teams blanked but the fifth was big for NU, with four runs being scored.

Everything went wrong for the blue and white, with multiple Northwestern players being hit by pitches.

Kentucky was unable to get things under control, committing two errors that would cause two runs to score for Northwestern. 

9-2 would be the score at the end of the inning and, apart from one more run Kentucky would score, very little would change before the final out saw the Cats drop to 9-3-1 on the season.

Kentucky would look to perform better in the nightcap, with that game set to start at 11 p.m. EST.

Kentucky would start Schoonover once again and, this time, she would pitch five scoreless innings, striking out four in the process.

On the rubber for UC-Riverside would be Maddie Heinlin, who would also go five just as Schoonover did, but unlike the UK arm she would allow three runs on eight hits. 

The Cats would once again strike first in the second game when a single from Hamilton scored Erin Coffel.

The scoring would cease until catcher Kayla Kowalik launched a home run to center field to double UK’s lead, marking her first homer of the year.

Kennedy Sullivan would then slice one through the right side, scoring Hamilton to make it 3-0.

The Highlanders did not have much offense in the game, failing to score on just four total hits. 

The late-night win would see Kentucky reach ten wins in its first fourteen games with Hamilton and Kowalik both logging multiple hits for the Wildcats in the winning effort.

Next up, Kentucky will head to Norman, Oklahoma, for the Oklahoma Tournament.

The tournament will start out with the Cats facing off against the UIC Flames on Friday before facing a tough No. 2 Oklahoma Sooner squad later that day.

The first game on Friday is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. EST while the second is scheduled to start directly after at 6:30 p.m. 

UK will repeat this sequence on Saturday with the first game starting at 1:30 p.m. and the second one directly following the first, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. These games can be watched on ESPN+.