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UK Softball Kicks Off Season With 4-0 Sweep of Opening Weekend

(@UKsoftball)

(@UKsoftball)

For the first time since 2014, the University of Kentucky softball team is 4-0 to start the season.

Thanks to an impressive three-day outing at the National Fastpitch Coaches’ Association Lead-Off Classic, the No. 15 ranked Wildcats cruised to a perfect opening weekend that included a walk-off grand slam, a blowout win over the No. 7 team in the nation, and a chance to face the US National Team.

Playing two games on Friday, two more on Saturday, and one on Sunday, the ladies gave up just five runs all weekend while knocking in 21 runs of their own.

In Game 1 against Liberty, Alex Martens – a preseason All-SEC pick – knocked in two home runs for the ‘Cats while sophomore Tatum Spangler hit two doubles in one game for the first time in her career, scoring two runs in the process. Kentucky led 6-0 before an error in the bottom of the seventh scored two runs for Liberty that gave us our final score of 6-2.

Game 2 was much closer, with Texas State playing Kentucky to a 2-1 loss. Junior pitcher Grace Baalman pitched a complete game for the Wildcats, striking out eight batters, just one short of her career-high. Freshman Rylea Smith went 3-4 at the plate in the game, scoring both runs for Kentucky. Her walk-off single to score senior Bailey Vick in the seventh inning secured the win for UK.

With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the eighth of Game 3, senior Autumn Humes blasted a walk-off grand slam to beat N.C. State 6-2. Humes did it all for Kentucky, pitching eight innings for the ‘Cats while allowing just one run, no walks, and striking out four batters.

Later on Saturday, Kentucky had a special opportunity when they faced off against the US National team. While they ended up losing 7-0, Vick recorded a hit off Monica Abbott – who holds the NCAA Division I record for most strikeouts – and Spangler pitched a clean third inning.

The weekend was highlighted with a dominant 7-0 win over the No. 7 Minnesota Golden Gophers earlier on Sunday. Sophomore Megan Schorman pitched just over four scoreless innings before Baalman came in to close Minnesota out in the final few innings. Junior Mallory Peyton opened up the scoring for UK, hitting her first home run of the season in the second inning to give the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead. Spangler drilled her first career home run in the fifth inning that extended the Kentucky lead to 5-0. Smith would record another RBI sophomore and Kayla Kowalik would steal home to score the final run, capping a 7-0 win and a perfect 4-0 weekend.

Smith was named to the All-Tournament Team by the NFCA.

Kentucky’s next event will be in Temp, AZ when they participate in the Littlewood Classic next weekend. Among the Wildcats’ opponents are Boise State, No. 22 Arizona State, Illinois State, and Detroit Mercy.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR