Kentucky softball defeats Saint Louis 6-3, remains undefeated at home


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Stephanie Schoonover (23) pitches the ball during the No. 16 Kentucky vs. Dayton softball home opener game on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Jonathon Bruner, Reporter

No. 14 Kentucky Softball (17-5-1) used the long ball to get past the Saint Louis Billikens (6-16) by a score of 6-3 on Tuesday.

The Wildcats did not wait around as they got on the scoreboard early in the first when leadoff hitter Kayla Kowalik added to her Kentucky softball hits record by sending a single into left field to open the game.

Just two batters later, three-hole hitter Erin Coffel launched a home run over the left field wall to bring home Kowalik and give the Wildcats a 2-0 lead after one inning.

Neither team would reach the scoreboard again until the fifth inning where the Billikens would gain the lead after putting up three runs, bringing the score to 3-2.

Kentucky Wildcats infielder Erin Coffel (21) runs towards third base during the No. 16 Kentucky vs. Dayton softball home opener game on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 5-4. Photo by Samuel Colmar | Staff (Samuel Colmar)

After recording two outs in the sixth inning, the Wildcats were down to their final four outs when freshman Lauryn Borzilleri would draw a walk before junior Grace Lorsung would come through with a two-run home run to give Kentucky a 4-3 lead late in the game. 

The Wildcats would come back up to bat in the seventh looking for some insurance to help prevent the possibility of a walk off win for the Billikens when junior Vanessa Nesby would open the inning with a bunt single.

With a runner on first, Coffel would come up to the plate and hit her second home run of the game over the center field fence to give the Wildcats the decisive 6-3 lead. 

On the other side of the ball, senior Sloan Gayan began the game on the hill for the Wildcats, ultimately pitching for three innings. Despite having traffic on the bases for all three of her innings, she left the game having given up no runs, finishing the day with four hits, two walks and one strikeout. 

Sophomore Alexia Lacatena came into the game in the fourth inning to relieve Gayan and, unlike her teammate, was unable to escape without trouble as it was Lacatena who surrendered the three runs that the Billikens put on the board on four hits.

Despite the stumble, Lacatena did have the strikeouts working in her favor as she struck out four batters in her two innings of work. 

Also, despite giving up the runs, following the offensive rally in the top of the sixth inning, Lacatena was named as the pitcher of record, receiving a win for her efforts to bring her season record to 6-1.

The Wildcats would send out their ace, junior Stephanie Schoonover, to the mound as they looked to finish the game with a win, something Schoonover ensured they did.

Schoonover earned the remaining six outs while only giving up one hit, recording five punch-outs in her short outing as well. The shutdown effort gave Schoonover her first save of the year. 

With the win, Kentucky will look to win its seventh game in a row in the John Cropp Classic, the first home tournament of the season for Kentucky. The Wildcats are slated to face off against Michigan, DePaul and Longwood in the event.