The weekend started with a bang for no. 14 UK softball, which used a massive five-run fifth inning rally to take the first of three vs. no. 15 LSU at John Cropp Stadium on Friday. The win moved Kentucky (32-10, 7-9) within one game of the Tigers (26-15, 8-8) in SEC play.
LSU got on the board first thanks to a two-run homer from catcher Morgan Cummins in the second, but the ‘Cats managed to even the score in the bottom of the third thanks to a few timely defensive miscues. Kayla Kowalik scored on an error, then Lauren Johnson came around to score on a wild pitch three batters later.
It stayed knotted until the fifth, when the LSU bats started rolling against UK starter Autumn Humes. She allowed a single, a walk then another longball, this time to first baseman Georgia Clark, which gave the Tigers a 5-2 advantage.
However, the Wildcats weren’t licked yet. They loaded the bases with one out for Renee Abernathy, who came through with a monster grand slam to left that put Kentucky on top, 6-5. The clutch hit was followed by a solo shot from Mallory Peyton, making it a 7-5 game headed into the final two innings.
The Tigers threatened in the sixth and seventh, putting three runners on, but were unable to drive them home against righthander Grace Baalman, who earned the win with 2.2 scoreless innings in relief.
UK ended the day with seven runs and six hits, led by Abernathy, who went 1-2 with four RBIs on the grand slam. Ciara Briggs led the way for LSU with three hits and a run scored.
For Kentucky, Kowalski extended her program-record hitting streak to 22 games with a first-inning single. The junior catcher was named a finalist for national player of the year earlier in the day.
The ‘Cats and Tigers will be back in action in Lexington for game two tomorrow, starting at 4 p.m.