Rylea Smith Walks Kentucky Off as Wildcats Takes Alabama Series

Rylea Smith Walks Kentucky Off as Wildcats Takes Alabama Series

LEXINGTON, Ky. – With runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth inning in a tied rubber match, senior Rylea Smith stepped to the plate in front of a season-high crowd of 2,117 fans and roped a walk-off double into the left-center gap to score Alexia Lacatena and walk off a series win over No. 13 Alabama at John Cropp Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Wildcats led 3-2 going into the seventh inning, but an Alabama run tied the game in the top of the seventh inning on an opposite-field hit to right and sent the game to extras. Alabama got a base runner on in the top of the eighth inning, but Stephanie Schoonover used one of her four strikeouts to end the threat and gave Kentucky a chance to walk it off in the bottom of the eighth. Lauryn Borzilleri was walked and Erin Coffel fisted a single into LF to put two on with an out as Smith then won the game on a double into left center.

Schoonover picked up her second win of the series in the circle, going the distance Saturday with two earned runs, three walks and four strikeouts to up her record to 13-5 on the season. Alabama starting pitcher Kayla Beaver went the first four innings and Jocelyn Briski took the loss as she pitched the final 3.1 innings allowing the walk-off in the eighth to Smith after throwing three scoreless innings prior to the eighth in relief.

The series win for Kentucky is its first of the year in the vaunted Southeastern Conference, as Thursday and Saturday’s wins marked wins number three and four on the season over the current construction of the top-25 polls. UK is now 23-12 on the year with a 2-7 league record. Alabama falls to 26-8 in 2024 and is one game ahead of Kentucky in the league standings at 3-6.

Kentucky will next play Wednesday evening at 5 p.m. ET against Northern Kentucky at John Cropp Stadium with the game streamed live on SEC Network+ and the ESPN app with Dave Baker and Jenny Dalton-Hill on the call from Lexington. Tickets are available at

Key Play 

Karissa Hamilton’s go-ahead two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning was the key play in Saturday’s game as it pushed Kentucky into the 3-2 lead after Alabama had scored twice to take a 1-0 lead through three and a half innings.

Key Player  

Rylea Smith was the key player Saturday, going 1-for-3 with the walk-off RBI double to win the game in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Key Stat 

0. Kentucky played error-free softball Saturday afternoon in front of a season-high crowd of 2,117 fans, a sellout at John Cropp Stadium.

Run Recap 

Hallie Mitchell led off the bottom od the second with a walk and scored on an Erin Coffel single to the right side. UK 1, ALA 0

Jenna Johnson hit a game-tying two-out home run in the top of the third inning. ALA 1, UK 1

In the top of the fourth inning, a run was walked in for Alabama after a lead-off hit by pitch and two successive walks sandwiching a single. ALA 2, UK 1

Karissa Hamilton re-gave Kentucky the lead in the bottom of the fourth as a double to left-center scored Hallie Mitchell, who also doubled, and Cassie Reasner who got the threat going on a single up the middle. UK 3, ALA 2

Alabama tied the game in the seventh inning on a lead-off single, passed ball, wild pitch and RBI single. ALA 3, UK 3

After getting a lead-off out, Lauryn Borzilleri was walked and pinch ran for by Alexia Lacatena. Erin Coffel then fisted a single into left to put two on with an out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Rylea Smith then stepped up and crushed an 0-1 pitch to left-center that went all the way to the wall as Lacatena tapped home and walked off the game and the series for Kentucky. Alabama challenged the play for a runner leaving early, but the ruling was upheld. FINAL – Kentucky 4, Alabama 3 (F/8)

NEW for 2024 – The Kentucky Softball Designated Players Club

The Designated Players is the Official Booster Program of Kentucky Softball.  Financial contributions and community support through The Designated Players program, Kentucky Softball will be able to continue to develop our student-athletes on and off the field. To join The Designated Players, you can join online or click here to download the membership form and mail to the address listed.  For more information, email Kristine Himes at or Larry Cash at

For the latest on UK Softball, follow the Wildcats on Twitter and Instagram at @UKSoftball.

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