For the first time in over a month, the UK softball team has completed a series sweep.
The No. 23 Cats (29-18, 12-9 SEC) finished off the sweep, reminiscent of Sunday afternoon’s game one, on Monday night after knocking down the No. 14 Auburn Tigers (34-13, 9-9 SEC) 7-0 to give the Cats their first sweep since Mississippi State on March 17.
Jenny Schaper saved the night for the Cats with her solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to break a scoreless game. She went 2-for-3 on the night. That home run kickstarted a seven-run inning – the most runs scored in an inning by the Cats this season.
Those first six scoreless innings were due in part to the stout efforts of Cats’ ace Grace Baalman and Tigers’ ace Chardonnay Harris (8-3). Baalman (8-8) received the win after pitching a complete game shutout and allowing only three hits and four walks to go with two strikeouts.
With two outs in the top of the first inning and the game scoreless, Baalman was able to escape a bases-loaded jam after Brittany Maresette fouled out to right field. Schaper was on second base that same inning but the Cats failed to bring her home.
Schaper and Mallory Peyton showed their gloves off on defense after catching two close infield flies in the second inning. Peyton gave the Cats their first hit of the game that same inning, but they still failed to produce a run.
It was the same story for both offenses for the next three innings. Both teams combined for four hits heading into the sixth inning. The Cats had no hits during that span and would go three batters up and three batters down in the third and fifth innings on offense.
After keeping the Tigers in check once more in the top of the sixth, the Cats got their big break with the stick. In the bottom of the sixth, Schaper led the inning off with a bang by clobbering her solo shot straight into center field to end the scoring drought and give the Cats a 1-0 lead. The Cats seemed to feed off that energy.
Four batters later, Kayla Kowalik slapped an RBI single to make the score 2-0 Cats. She finished the night 2-for-3. Peyton singled to drive home two more runs and increase the Cats’ lead to 4-0 before Tatum Spangler scored on a wild pitch. Schaper came back and drove in two more runs on a single to round off the inning.
Monday’s sweep is Kentucky’s first sweep over Auburn since 2009. Auburn swept the Cats when they last came to Lexington in 2016.
UK will play its final regular season home game on Wednesday, April 24 to take on the Eastern Kentucky University Colonels at 6 p.m. SEC Network+ will have the broadcast.