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Kentucky Softball brings the storm to Virginia Tech, advances to Finals

Adam Stratton05/21/22


Article written by:On3 imageAdam Stratton


Photo by Eddie Justice | UK Athletics

It may be one of the saddest scenes in childhood: the little kid, glove in hand, jersey on, looking out the window at a ball field soaked in rain wishing it would lighten up to the point where they can go out and play. That was the situation for the Kentucky Wildcats softball team in the Blacksburg Regional when a storm caused a two-hour and ten-minute weather delay to their game against the host team and #3 seed Virginia Tech.

For most of the game, it looked like the ‘Cats wished the weather delay never ended.

In the first inning, Tech’s cleanup hitter with an admittedly awesome name, Meredith Slaw, hit a grand slam to put the Hokies up 4-0 before the first out was recorded. The homer must have felt like deja vu for Kentucky because, incredibly, Slaw hit her only other grand slam of the season against the ‘Cats in their previous matchup back in February.

That’s cold, Slaw. But Kentucky would have the last helping.

The ‘Cats squandered plenty of chances to score throughout the game and actually racked up more hits than the Hokies through six innings, but unfortunately, those hits were like the showers in the sky beforehand, scattered. The ‘Cats stranded one runner in the first inning, two in the third, and two in the fourth, and couldn’t seem to cash their hits into runs.

Late Inning Heroics

However, in the sixth inning, the scoring clouds parted. Taylor Ebbs followed up her two-home run performance against Miami with another deep ball to put Kentucky on the board. Unfortunately, it was a solo shot and appeared as if it was going to be too little too late.

But in the seventh inning, the offensive storm raged. Vanessa Nesby and Kayla Kowalik led off the inning with back-to-back infield singles. Then, Erin Coffel blasted a single to center field, scoring Nesby. After that, it was Renee Abernathy and the lightning in her bat that did the rest.

Against one of the best pitches in the country, Keely Rochard, Abernathy walloped a 1-0 pitch over the right-field fence giving Kentucky the lead and sending her teammates into a frenzy.

After the game, Abernathy said, “I’m seeing the ball really well this weekend. So, that’s good.”

Yes, it is.

On the other side of the ball, Alexia Lacatena relieved Tatum Spangler in the second inning and threw smoke. She held the Hokies to just two hits, and at one point retired 10 straight. Things got a little dicey for her in the bottom of the seventh after an error put a runner on base for Kentucky foe, Meredeth Slaw, with a chance to win the game with a home run.

It took a video review to reverse the initial safe call, but Slaw grounded out to first base after an initial bobble and the ‘Cats held on to their dramatic comeback victory.

They will now play in the regional final on Sunday at 12:00 EST when they will look to keep their hit storm rolling.

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