The No. 22 UK softball team (30-18, 12-9 SEC) won its final regular season home game in statement fashion in a 10-2 run-rule victory over in-state rival Eastern Kentucky University Colonels (26-16, 12-4 OVC) on Wednesday night to complete the season sweep over EKU.
“I think, building off the momentum we had this weekend, tonight we were able to take control of the situation and play our game,” UK head coach Rachel Lawson said following the win.
Alex Martens made it rain runs after hitting a grand slam in the second inning that set the Cats on a straight course for the rest of the night. Kelsee Henson and Abbey Cheek also joined the long ball carnival as they each hit a home run.
Autumn Humes (11-8) handled business on the mound after pitching a complete game, her ninth of the season. She allowed only two runs and two hits with a strikeout. Colonels’ starting ace Samantha Reynoso (8-1) lasted only 1 1/3 innings and allowed three runs. Murphy McRoberts (0-6) received the loss.
“Autumn (Humes) calmed herself down after the first inning and started mixing speeds and handled it from there. Our pitching staff has done a great job,” Lawson said.
The Colonels came storming out of the gate in the top of the first inning. Destinee Lizzmore got the pot stirring with a two-run home run to make the score 2-0 Colonels. UK responded immediately that same inning as Martens whacked an RBI single into left field to cut the Colonels’ lead to 2-1.
After having three batters go up and down the following inning, the Cats had some fun and got comfortable for the rest of the night. Henson, a senior, led off the inning with a solo home run to right field to even up the score for only her fourth home run all-time as a Wildcat. She finished the night 1-for-2.
Jenny Schaper soon reached on a fielding error that also brought Lauren Johnson home to give the Cats their first lead at 3-2. Three batters later, Martens continued the magic. She smashed the grand slam to center field to make the score 7-2 Cats, capping off a six-run inning.
“We practice that in a lot of situational hitting. When it’s all runners on, you’re thinking sacrifice flies and scoring runs, so that’s why a lot of people hit it like that,” Martens said.
The Cats picked right back up in the fourth next inning. Cheek, a USA Softball National Player of the Year finalist, sent a three-run homer for takeoff to right field to increase the Cats’ lead 10-2 for her team-leading 17thhome run this year. She finished the night 1-for-2.
“I was just trying to be simple in the box and not think too much," Cheek said. "But it’s also cool having people behind me who can hit the ball like that too.”
The Cats will kick off their second-to-last regular season road series against the Alabama Crimson Tide on Friday, April 26, at 7:30 p.m.