Softball

2022 Kentucky Softball Preview – The Pitchers

by Chris Shoals

As pitching goes, so goes a college softball team. That’s the typical mantra, and the past 10 winners of the Women’s College World Series have all sported team ERA’s under two, so the mantra seems to have proven to be correct over the years.
 
This year, it’s going to be a bevy of options out of the bullpen for Rachel Lawson, who calls all the pitches and serves as the team’s pitching coach. The Wildcats will have to replace the long-time reliable arms of Grace Baalman and Autumn Humes, but certainly have the talent and numbers to do so.
 
Let’s start with the returners – and that begins with Miranda Stoddard. The part-time third baseman, part-time pitcher comes back from a 5-0 year a season ago with a 3.17 ERA and over 53 innings pitched for the Blue and White. Stoddard has noticeably taken steps forward this offseason and looks to play a critical role in the success of the 2022 season.
 
Tatum Spangler provides a left-handed look that has been a mainstay of successful pitching staffs under Lawson dating back to Meagan Prince in 2014-17. Spangler pitched 28 innings last year and went 4-3 in the circle with six starts in her nine games that she appeared in.
 
Sloan Gayan (1-0, 4.54 ERA) and Stephanie Schoonover (0-0, 1.00 ERA) both come back with a valuable year of experience under their respective belts and will look to make ever more contributions to the Wildcats for 2022. Gayan threw just over 12 innings and Schoonover threw seven innings, mostly in non-conference action – but will look to play a bigger role in 2022.
 
The newcomers are both flashy and fun. That’s one thing that softball fans found out in the fall when they got to see them.
 
Starting with Izzy Harrison, the freshman out of the Bandits program brings speed that a freshman has never had at Kentucky. Harrison shined under the lights in the fall season and will look to get lots of swings and misses with her combination of power and speed as the season progresses.
 
And the most notable addition to the roster might be incoming Olympian, Alexia Lacatena. The Italian national team pitcher threw significant innings in the Olympic games, including against Team USA, as she helped the Italians to a strong debut appearance in their first Olympic games. Lacatena got the start for Kentucky in its featured fall game vs. Tennessee, and against one of the preseason SEC favorites, did not disappoint.
 
Another new face to the circle will be Kennedy Sullivan, who transfers in from Western Kentucky University. Sullivan was named to the All-CUSA Tournament Team a year ago as she helped power WKU to a spot in the NCAA Tournament by winning the conference championship. Sullivan was also the winning pitcher in UK’s loss to WKU in April during the team’s non-conference meeting. Sullivan went 9-0 with a 2.44 ERA a year ago and has a career ERA of 2.79.  
 
For the latest on UK Softball, follow the Wildcats on Twitter and Instagram at @UKSoftball.
 

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