No. 15 Kentucky softball survives late surge to take game one against Ole Miss


Samuel Colmar

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

Colton Johnson, Reporter

No. 15 Kentucky (23-9-1) kicked off its fourth SEC series on Friday with a 4-3 win over Ole Miss (22-17) at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in Oxford, Mississippi.

The win brings Kentucky’s conference record to 6-4 after losing back-to-back weekend series to No. 19 Texas A&M (22-13) and No. 10 Georgia (30-7).  

Kentucky would start slow in the top of the first, with junior Erin Coffel being the only Wildcat to reach base after being hit by a pitch. 

Graduate student Kennedy Sullivan would start on the mound for Kentucky, recording her first strikeout of the game as she retired the side in the bottom of the first.  

The Wildcats would remain scoreless in the second inning despite junior Grace Lorsung reaching base on an error and Sullivan recording the first hit of the evening. 

Rebel batters would be held hitless in the bottom of the second when Sullivan added another strikeout as she sent the first three batters she faced back to the dugout.

Kentucky Wildcats infielder Margaret Tobias (12) covers second base during the No. 16 Kentucky vs. Louisville softball game on Wednesday, March 29, 2023, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 7-4. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff (Jack Weaver)

Junior Vanessa Nesby would reach first base early in the top of the third after sending a single into left field, with a Coffel home run plating both runners as Kentucky took a 2-0 advantage.  

Sullivan would make the strikeout total five in the bottom of the third as she struck out the side to send Kentucky back to the batter’s box. 

After doubling to record her second hit of the game with Sullivan being pinch run by junior Erica Thulen, sophomore Margaret Tobias’s single would score Thulen and add to Kentucky’s lead.  

The Wildcats proceeded to load the bases in the top of the fourth after Tobias’s RBI but were unable to send any runners home.  

The Rebels would get on the board in the bottom of the fourth after a double was followed by an RBI single from senior Paige Smith to make the score 3-1. 

Another run would be added to the Wildcat lead in the top of the fifth after Sullivan recorded her third hit in the form of a home run as she expanded the Kentucky lead back to three.  

Sullivan would then get back to work on defense as she added another strikeout to her count to hold the Rebels hitless in the bottom of the fifth. 

After a hitless top of the sixth from Kentucky, the Rebels would be held scoreless in the bottom of the sixth after a pick-off at second base was followed by Sullivan retiring the next two batters.  

The Wildcats would fail to add to their lead in the top of the seventh despite Coffel and freshman Karissa Hamilton reaching base by way of a forced walk.  

Needing three runs to force extra innings, Smith would shorten Kentucky’s lead to two in the bottom of the seventh with a home run, forcing a pitching change to senior Sloan Gayan.  

Junior Aynslie Furbush followed the homer with a double, with the Wildcat lead being cut to one after an RBI double from sophomore Brooke Barnard sent Furbush home.  

With Sullivan returning to the mound for Kentucky, redshirt freshman Jenna Blanton would throw a runner out at home from center field to record out number two.  

Needing one out to secure the victory, Coffel would snare a ball on its way to left field to give Kentucky the 4-3 win.  

The Wildcats will look to clinch their second SEC series victory as they take on Ole Miss in game two on Saturday, April 3, at 7 p.m. EST with the game being streamed on the SEC Network+.