This past weekend in Tempe, Arizona, the Kentucky softball team competed in five games in the Littlewood Classic. Friday the Wildcats beat Boise State University in a high scoring game that ended 16-14. Later that day, they lost 3-2 to No. 23 ranked Arizona State. Saturday, the ladies blew Illinois State University out of the water with a score of 7-1 before losing to Arizona State again in an 11-inning 7-5 game. The Cats finished out the weekend with a whopping 15-3 win over Detroit Mercy.
No. 10 Kentucky played an epic game in their first matchup on Friday. In the win versus Boise State, the Wildcats only went scoreless in the 1st and 4th innings and did not bat in the 7th inning. UK’s key player of the game was sophomore Kayla Kowalik, who led the way with three runs. Rylea Smith, Lauren Johnson, Bailey Vick, and Autumn Humes each added two runs. Five other players all had one run to increase to the scoreboard. Renee Abernathy's three-run home run, her first career homer, in the third inning gave the Wildcats an even bigger spark.
Arizona State gave the Wildcats their first loss of the season in a close game on Friday night. Grace Baalman and Vick were the only two to score versus the Sun Devils. The Wildcats went scoreless until the 5th inning and their last run came in the 6th inning. Both Kowalik and Baalman made big plays at the plate to give the Wildcats a chance. Kowalik hit a triple into center field to spark some offense for the Wildcats and Baalman hit a home run in her only appearance at the plate at the bottom of the sixth inning, which decreased the Sun Devils’ lead to one. However, the Wildcats just couldn’t seem to get a nice hit when they needed to in order to top Arizona State.
The Wildcats returned Saturday evening with vengeance. Martens led the way at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, three RBI and a walk. Kowalik, Smith, Jaci Babbs, Mallory Peyton, and Abernathy all pitched in one run to add to the big win, while the Wildcats’ defense kept the Illinois Redbirds scoreless in 6 of the 7 innings. Mallory Peyton came up big for the Cats in the matchup, hitting a two-run homer gave the Cats a one-run lead in the fourth inning. With the win, Autumn Humes became 2-0 when pitching this season. The senior also did not issue any walks in the game, making it her second-straight full game without allowing a walk to any batters.
The Wildcats were given a second chance to redeem themselves Saturday against Arizona State, but they fell short once more in the longest game of UK’s season. Kowalik and Vick both scored two runs while Smith contributed one. The Wildcats had too many errors late in the game, which kept them from closing the game a few times. UK had the Sun Devils down 4-1 before a three-run home run was hit to right-center to tie the game in the eighth inning. But, the Sun Devils had an answer for every play the Wildcats made, and defeated Kentucky 7-5.
The next game for Kentucky is at Middle Tennessee State University on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. The Cats don’t play their first home game until March 7, when they’ll take on Texas A&M in a three-game series.