No. 20 Kentucky softball shuts out Northern Kentucky, claims 9-0 win in five innings


Travis Fannon

Kentucky Wildcats pitcher Kennedy Sullivan (8) pitches the ball during the No. 16 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Tennessee softball game on Sunday, April 16, 2023, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 15-1. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff

Jonathon Bruner, Reporter

No. 20 Kentucky Softball (26-13) used its bats to get past the Northern Kentucky Norse (14-27) by a score of 9-0 in five innings on Tuesday. 

Sophomore Alexia Lacatena got the ball in the circle for the Wildcats and she kept it for the entirety of the shortened game.

She got the lead off hitter out before getting into some trouble early when an error by the Wildcats and a walk would give the Norse an early chance to score. A flyout and a strikeout would get her out of jam with no runs, however.

Lacatena settled into the game with a groundout and two strikeouts to end a quick three-up-three-down inning for the Wildcats. 

Lacatena came out and had another quick inning as she got two groundouts and a flyout to retire the side three-up-and-three-down again.

The fourth inning for Lacatena began with a strikeout, which she followed up with another before a flyout ended yet another inning with just three batters faced. 

Lacatena picked up right where she left off as she opened the fifth inning with a strikeout. A single by the next batter would break up the no-hit bid before a flyout to left field got the second out of the inning for the Wildcats.

Kentucky Wildcats outfielder Jenna Blanton (10) bunts during the No. 16 Kentucky vs. No. 6 Tennessee softball game on Sunday, April 16, 2023, at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky lost 15-1. Photo by Travis Fannon | Staff (Travis Fannon)

One out away from victory, a line out to left field secured the shutout for Lacatena and the Wildcats. The win saw Lacatena’s record improve to 10-6 on the year, finishing the day with just one hit and one walk while striking out six batters.

As far as the offense goes, the Wildcats went quietly in the first inning and it looked as if they would again the second inning before a two-out triple by sophomore Taylor Ebbs got the Wildcats into the hit column.

The next batter to come to the plate was junior Meeko Harrison and she drew a walk to bring runners to corners with two outs. Unfortunately for the visitors the Wildcats were not able to come through and both runners were left stranded. 

In the next inning junior Vanessa Nesby recorded a one-out infield single to give the Wildcats a baserunner before junior Erin Coffel joined her on the bags.

A single by Kentucky softball all-time hits leader Kayla Kowalik then brought home Nesby and gave the Wildcats a 1-0 lead, though the lone run would be all for the Wildcat offense as a strikeout and a flyout ended the top half of the third inning. 

After one out in the top of the fourth, Harrison roped a double to give the Wildcats another runner in scoring position before sophomore Margaret Tobias laid down a bunt single that positioned runners at the corners. Once again though, the Wildcats left both runners stranded.

The Wildcat offense finally roared to life in the fifth inning starting with a leadoff single by Coffel, who reached base for the third time in the game. 

Coffel then swiped second base before Kowalik sent a triple off the left field fence to bring her home and improve the Wildcats’ lead to 2-0. 

Sophomore Hallie Mitchell extended the Wildcats’ lead to 3-0 after sending a single over the shortstop’s head. 

Ebbs then sent a double into right center field to bring home Mitchell and bring the Wildcats lead to 4-0 before Harrison drew a walk to give the Wildcats another baserunner. 

Freshman Karissa Hamilton came to the plate as a pinch hitter and drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases for the Wildcats. Graduate student Kennedy Sullivain unloaded the bases with a double into the left center field gap to bring the Wildcats lead to 7-0.

Coffel finally came to bat with two down in the inning and sent a home run over the left field wall to bring the Wildcats lead to 9-0 and end the game in a run rule. 

With the win the Wildcats will host the Arkansas Razorbacks in game one of a three game series at John Cropp Stadium on Friday, April 21, at 6:30 p.m. EST.