LEXINGTON, Ky. (UK Athletics) – Sophomore pitcher Grace Baalman pitched a complete-game gem in the circle, as she powered the No. 14 Kentucky softball team into the 2019 Lexington Regional final with an 8-1 win against Virginia Tech in the winner’s bracket game on Saturday afternoon.
Baalman went the distance, allowing just one run on eight hits, walking nobody and striking out a trio of Hokies.
Kentucky advances into the Lexington Regional final on Sunday, where the Wildcats will will play Virginia Tech, who defeated Illinois, 5-1. Sunday’s game will start at Noon ET on ESPN3 and should UK lose – the seventh game of the regional to decide a spot in the Super Regionals would follow 45 minutes after that game.
Kentucky registered eight hits off of ACC Pitcher of the Year, Carrie Eberle – who took the loss in the circle to fall to 25-7 on the year. Baalman improved to 10-9 with the win.
3. Freshman Kayla Kowalik went 3-for-4 in the game with three critical hits. Her first hit was UK’s first in the game, her second hit allowed her to score the Wildcats’ first run, and her third was an RBI single.
The key play in the game was Jenny Schaper’s two-run single into left center with the bases loaded in a 1-0 game. The single plated Lauren Johnson and Kelsee Henson to push across the eventual game-winning runs.
Grace Baalman was the key player in the game, earning her 10th win of the season in the circle and not walking a batter in the contest.
Lauren Johnson tripled into left field in the bottom of the fourth inning to score Kayla Kowalik from first and put the Wildcats up, 1-0. Two batters later, Kentucky made it 3-0 on Jenny Schaper’s two-run single into left. UK 3, VT 0
In the bottom of the fifth, Kentucky plated four runs. The first two batters of the innings reached on errors and pinch runner Jaci Babbs scored on a wild pitch with nobody out. Kayla Kowalik singled into center to score Tatum Spangler and increased the UK lead to 5-0. Bailey Vick then singled on a squeeze play and scored Kennedy Cowden from third on the perfectly-executed play. UK 7, VT 0
In the top of the sixth, Virginia Tech scored its only run of the game on a one-out solo HR off the bat of Emma Strouth. UK 7, VT 1
In the bottom of the sixth, Katie Reed led off the inning with a walk and came around to score on an Alex Martens sacrifice fly. The sac fly from Martens tied the school record for most RBI in a season (61). FINAL – Kentucky 8, Virginia Tech 1
2019 NCAA Softball Lexington Regional
John Cropp Stadium – Lexington, Ky.
Friday, May 17
Game 1 – Virginia Tech def. Illinois, 6-2
Game 2 – Kentucky def. Toledo, 7-2
Saturday, May 18
Game 3 – Kentucky def. Virginia Tech, 8-1
Game 4 – Illinois def. Toledo, 2-0
Game 5 – Virginia Tech def. Illinois, 5-1
Sunday, May 19
Game 6 – Kentucky (A) vs. Virginia Tech (H) – Noon ET
Game 7 – Virginia Tech (A) vs. Kentucky (H) (If necessary) – 2:30 p.m. ET