LEXINGTON, Ky. – Behind a stunning performance from sophomore pitcher Grace Baalman in the circle and a huge two-strike, two-run double in the top of the fifth inning from senior Jenny Schaper – the No. 22 Kentucky softball team got its biggest win of the season on Friday night beating No. 3 Alabama at Rhodes Stadium.
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This is the third time in school history that Kentucky has defeated a Top 3 SEC opponent on the road. UK defeated No. 3 Florida on Apr. 17, 2010 and beat No. 2 Florida on Apr. 27, 2012.
.@UKSoftball picks up a big series-opening road win in Tuscaloosa 4-1. pic.twitter.com/UREAiboI4n— KYwildcatsTV (@KYwildcatsTV) April 27, 2019
Kentucky has now won five games in a row and improves to 31-18 overall on the season, while improving to 13-9 in Southeastern Conference play this season. Alabama falls to 46-5 overall and 14-5 in the SEC. Friday marked the second loss of the season for Alabama at home this season.
Game two of the series will be on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET, and will be shown live on ESPN, ESPN3 and the ESPN app with Mark Neely (pxp) and former Washington All-American and national champion, Danielle Lawrie on the call.
2. Friday night marked Kentucky's second top-five road win of the season. The Wildcats have played the No. 1 national strength of schedule and also defeated No. 5 LSU two weeks ago in Baton Rouge.
#TBT to a win over top-10 Alabama a few years ago at John Cropp Stadium! Bringing that magic with us this weekend to the Rhodes House for a great weekend of 🥎! pic.twitter.com/r4wybSGc4U— Kentucky Softball (@UKsoftball) April 25, 2019
Jenny Schaper's two-run double in the top of the fifth inning was the key play, as it scored the eventual game-winning run as she roped a ball down the left-field line with the bases loaded and no outs.
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Grace Baalman was the key player in the game, as she went the distance allowing just one run on six hits in the game. Baalman struck out four batters and limited the Tide to just two walks. She has now pitched the last 22.0 innings in SEC play with only one run allowed.
With the bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the fifth – Jenny Schaper doubled down the left-field line to score Jaci Babbs and Lauren Johnson. Katie Reed then plated the Wildcats third run in the inning on a SAC fly to deep CF. UK 3, ALA 0
In the top of the sixth, Kayla Kowalik scored on a two-out, two-strike double into the right-center gap off the bat of Kelsee Henson. UK 4, ALA 0
Grace Baalman's SEC scoreless innings streak was snapped at 21.1 on a solo home run by Bailey Hemphill. FINAL - #23 Kentucky 4, #3 Alabama 1