Lacatena’s Strong Start, Schoonover’s Finish Sends UK Past Gophs
SAN DIEGO – Thanks to a terrific pitching performance by the Kentucky Softball pitching staff including a strong start from Alexia Lacatena and a finish from Stephanie Schoonover, the Wildcats survived another extra inning game Sunday, knocking off the Minnesota Golden Gophers 3-2 in eight to claim the title of the 2024 Aztec Opening Weekend Kickoff Tournament.
Lacatena went 4.0 innings with only two runs scoring against her, on an unlucky break with a sun balls, striking out two and walking one. Jaden Vickers came in and offered 2.0 innings of shutout relief, followed by Sydney Langson, who got a strikeout in the seventh. With the game on the line, Stephanie Schoonover entered the game and pitched 1.2 innings to close things out with three strikeouts, including the final two batters with the tying run 60 feet away.
Kentucky with the win closes the weekend 4-1 and wins the tournament via having the most wins. The Wildcats have allowed two runs or less in each of its first five games for the first time in program history.
Kentucky’s offense began with a solo home run off the bat of Erin Coffel in the top of the first inning to put the Wildcats on the front foot. After the Gophers answered with two in the fourth, Grace Lorsung hammered a game-tying blast on the first pitch of the sixth inning to tie the game at two.
Delani Sullivan scored the game-winning run in the top of the eighth inning thanks to a straight steal of third with international tiebreak rules in effect and took home on a throwing error by the Gophers. Stephanie Schoonover picks up her third win of the season to move to 3-0 on the year.
The key play in the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning where Jenna Blanton robbed a two-run home run at the wall and kept the game tied at 2-2 going to the seventh.
The key player was Alexia Lacatena, who put in a tremendous start for UK, allowing just two runs on 4.0 innings with a walk and pair of strikeouts.
The key stat in the game is two. Kentucky has allowed two runs or less in each of its first five games for the first time in program history.
Erin Coffel hit a home run in the top of the first inning to score the first run. UK 1, MINN 0
In the bottom of the fourth, Minnesota scored two runs on a sun ball. MINN 2, UK 1
In the top of the sixth, Kentucky tied the game on a Grace Lorsung solo homer on the first pitch of the inning that resulted in Gopher starting pitcher Bri Enter being pulled. UK 2, MINN 2
With international tiebreak in effect, Delani Sullivan started the inning at second and straight stole third and a throwing error allowed her to score. Schoonover then closed the door with two strikeouts and the tying run on third with one out to close the game. FINAL – Kentucky 3, Minnesota 2 (F/8)
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