After run-ruling Tennessee in five innings last night in Knoxville, the University of Kentucky Softball team looked to win the series this afternoon. However, the Lady Volunteers had other plans in mind.
A 2 RBI double to left field with from Ally Shipman put Tennessee on the score board first in the bottom of the second inning. Kentucky pitcher Autumn Humes held tough, ending the inning with no further damage.
Kentucky’s leading batter and one of the SEC’s best Kayla Kowalik answered in the top of the third. Kowalik hit a deep ball to center field that looked like it would be caught, but the Volunteer outfielder ran into the wall and dropped it, allowing Lauren Johnson to come from first to score and cut the lead to 2-1. The ‘Cats put runners on the corners with two outs, but couldn’t push any more through.
Tennessee extended their lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a 2 RBI homer from Ashley Morgan. Center fielder Renee Abernathy reached for it, but had an awkward collision with the wall and left the game. She would re-enter in the top of the sixth.
Grace Baalman came in to pitch in the bottom of the fifth, but her time was short lived. Another RBI from Shipman in the bottom of the fifth with no outs made it 5-1 Vols, prompting Rachel Lawson to replace Baalman with Tatum Spangler.
Though the Wildcat defense made three tough errors in the bottom of the fifth, they executed a huge double play to get the runners at first and third out and step closer to ending the inning. Vols leadoff hitter Amanda Ayala was injured on the play, seeming to have a left ankle problem.
Kowalik came up big again with a leadoff homer in the top of the sixth, cutting the Tennessee lead to three. It was her seventh of the year and second in the series. The Wildcats couldn’t find any more offense, though, and the game ended 5-2.
FINAL – Tennessee 6, Kentucky 2
Tennessee takes the rubber match and wins the series.
The Battle of the Bluegrass will be in Louisville on Wednesday night. #WeAreUK
— Kentucky Softball (@UKsoftball) April 4, 2021
The ‘Cats had a tough time again against Tennessee pitcher Ashley Rogers, one of the best strikeout pitchers in the country. Rogers absolutely dominated the mound, striking out four of the first six Wildcat batters she faced and ending the game with 13 total.
Kentucky has never won a series in Knoxville.
The ‘Cats will look to bounce back this week with a rivalry game against Louisville on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.