Kentucky Softball Wins Series vs. Florida Behind Stellar Pitching

On3 imageby:Katelyn Perkins05/07/23
Photo by UK Athletics

Rain, rain go away, the Lady Bat ‘Cats played today.

Kentucky softball (30-19-1; 10-14) finished off the 2023 regular season against the No. 17 Florida Gators (35-20; 11-14) on a rainy Sunday afternoon at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington, KY. With both sides held scoreless going into the sixth inning, the Wildcats got the only run they needed to secure a 1-0 win and the series victory.

A late-game rally on Saturday from the ‘Cats tied the series up at 1-1 coming into the final game of the weekend. Stellar pitching from New Jersey native Alexia Lacatena and Kentucky’s defense carried the Wildcats to a critical win to end their last home game before the postseason.

Kentucky’s defense is rocking

Lacatena came out assertive in the top of the first.

Three straight fly balls held the Gators to no runs scored going into the bottom of the first. Graduate student Kayla Kowalik led off for the ‘Cats but had no luck of her own. Next up for Kentucky was junior ball bomber Erin Coffel, although the name did not hold up as three straight outs sent it to the second scoreless.

It was another successful, spotless inning for Lacatena in the circle as the Gators were still run-less in the second. Unfortunately, this was also the same story for the Wildcats in the second.

In fact, both teams were held to no scores up until the fifth inning.

In the top of the fifth, pitching remained consistent for Kentucky. Lacatena left some Gators on base as both teams moved into the bottom of the fifth. The ‘Cats finally had prosperity from the plate in the bottom of the inning to put two on, but this was short-lived with a Florida strikeout to send us into the sixth.

Lorsung drives one out

Junior Vanessa Nesby was the name of Kentucky’s defensive game in the sixth inning as she saw three straight fly balls hit her way to left field, snagging each one of them to go three up and three down. It seemed like neither team would ever score the way that both squad’s defenses were performing, but junior Indiana transfer Grace Lorsung had other plans.

The bottom of the sixth was the shining moment that the ‘Cats needed on offense. Lorsung had sent a ball to the fence in the fifth, but it was caught before it could get out of the park. But the next time around, the Indiana transfer hit another bomb in the bottom of the sixth that went right over the center field fence to give UK a late 1-0 lead.

Pitching strengths

With one last chance to save the series, Lacatena and the defense stepped back onto the field in the seventh.

The ‘Cats found themselves in a tricky position when they had two outs on the board, but two Gators on base. Lacatena stayed steady and sent a pitch that was popped up to the infield and caught by Lorsung to take the series over Florida.

The 2-1 series win for the ‘Cats marked their first series win against the Gators in 12 years. It also tallied UK’s third SEC series win to close out the regular season.

The SEC Tournament starts on Tuesday in Fayetteville, Arkansas. UK earned the No. 9 seed and will face the Gators once again, which snagged the No. 8 seed, on Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. EST on the SEC Network.

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