Coming off of a Coach B Classic sweep, the no. 22 UK softball team has continued to handle business. The Cats opened SEC play with 5-0 and 11-2 wins over the no. 11 South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia on Friday and Saturday, respectively, to clinch the series.
Friday’s matchup was deadlocked for the first four innings as the Cats’ pitcher Autumn Humes and Gamecocks’ pitcher Cayla Drotar didn’t give up any runs.
The Wildcats ended the scoreless drought when first baseman Mallory Peyton drove home second baseman Alex Martens on an RBI single in the fourth inning to make it 1-0 UK. Infielder Lauren Johnson increased the Cats’ lead an inning later with a one-run homer.
Shortstop Katie Reed advanced to third base and later scored after a throwing error to make it 3-0 that same inning. Martens helped put the game away with a two RBI single in the seventh inning. She went 2-for-3 Friday evening.
Humes pitched a complete game shutout to improve to 5-4 on the year. She had five strikeouts, gave up two hits and allowed only five runners on base. That all came against an offense that entered the game with five hitters batting .400 or better.
The Cats stayed consistent entering Saturday afternoon with an 11-2 victory. Offensively, the team got going early with an RBI single from Martens in the first inning. South Carolina evened up the score with an RBI single from Haley Simpson.
Abbey Cheek and Peyton each had a home run in the third and fourth innings, respectively, to increase UK’s lead 4-1. The Gamecocks responded after an RBI triple from Lauren Stewart and made the score 4-2.
But, from that point on, the game belonged to the Cats.
Cheek and Reed each drove in a run in the fifth inning to make it 6-2. Catcher Jenny Schaper, outfielder Kayla Kowalik and Martens drove in some insurance runs to cap off the blowout. Martens had another RBI single in the sixth inning and Schaper had a two RBI double an inning later. Kowalik, the reigning SEC Freshman of the Week, added in a two RBI single that same inning.
Cheek, Kowalik, Martens and Reed each went 2-for-4 Saturday. Pitcher Grace Baalman improved her record to 5-3 after pitching a complete game and recorded two strikeouts, allowed one run and gave up five hits.
Friday’s victory for the Cats ended South Carolina’s 15-game winning streak – the second consecutive year that the Gamecocks have had such a streak. UK improves to 14-7 and looks to finish off the sweep tomorrow afternoon at 1:00 p.m.