No. 18 Kentucky softball battles back to blow out No. 8 Washington 11-3 in extra innings

On3 imageby:Zack Geoghegan02/23/23


Photo by Eddie Justice | UK Athletics

Now that’s how you start a West Coast trip on the right foot.

On Thursday afternoon in Palm Springs, Calif., No. 18 Kentucky softball (7-1-1) overcame an early deficit to blow past the No. 8 Washington Huskies in extra innings, winning by a dominating final score of 11-3 in the first of five games for the Wildcats at the 2023 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. Graduate student Kayla Kowalik was the star for the ‘Cats as she hit 5-5 on the afternoon, breaking the school record for most career hits in the process.

Kentucky got the Classic off to an ideal start with a major win over a ranked opponent but will need repeat performances over the next two days with matchups against No. 1 UCLA and No. 17 Northwestern also on the docket. But first, UK is in for a showdown later tonight against unranked San Diego State at 8:30 p.m. EST.

The Huskies got the scoring going early in the bottom of the first inning. Washington’s Avery Hobson was able to bring in the opening run after Kinsey Fielder was walked with the bases loaded. Kentucky would remain scoreless as Washington brought in another run in the bottom of the third thanks to a right-field home run from Baylee Klingler, making the score 2-0.

But Kentucky finally responded in the top of the fourth. Taylor Ebbs got the ‘Cats on the board with a solo home run to right field that made it 2-1 in favor of Washington before Grace Lorsung knotted the game at 2-2 for UK after Kennedy Sullivan’s single helped bring in another run.

Despite giving up two runs in the first three innings, sophomore pitcher Izzy Harrison prevented Washington from scoring in the bottom of the fourth, which allowed Kentucky the opportunity to take a lead — and that’s exactly what they did. A single from Rylea Smith scored Kowalik to give the ‘Cats a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning.

The advantage didn’t last long though, as Fielder drilled a solo homer to right field in the bottom of the sixth for Washington to bring the score back to a tie at 3-3. Both sides would fail to score in the seventh inning, sending us into extras, where UK put its foot on the gas in demoralizing fashion for the Huskies.

Kentucky quickly made the most of the additional inning, immediately bringing in two runs to make it 5-3 with the bases still loaded and just one out in the top of the eighth. UK wasn’t done there though, knocking in two more runs to stretch its lead out to 7-3 with two runners still on base. It only got worse for Washington from there as the ‘Cats brought home four more runs before finally getting out of the jam, ultimately giving Kentucky the blowout win.

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