It has been a busy week on the diamond for both Kentucky Wildcats baseball and softball. With both teams getting their seasons underway, both teams are showing some promise for what could be an exciting seasons for both programs.
Here is how both teams preformed this week.
This week the baseball Cats started off on the right foot going 4-0 to start the season. These four wins helped extend their winning streak to 10 games going into last season. With a good Opening day win on Tuesday vs Miami (OH) and then following it up with a weekend sweep of the Milwaukee Panthers.
For a team that was expected to struggle this season its a good sign to see them showing life early as they are averaging seven runs per game here to start off conference play. Expected to be heavily led by the returning core of offensive superstars it is actually the young guys who made a huge impact early.
Offensively, true freshman Rueben Church stole the show. After not playing in Tuesday’s game he earned three straight starts at third base this weekend. If these numbers are a peek at what is to come for this young man in his time at Lexington, fans should get excited. Church finished the week batting .600 (hitting four doubles on the week), with one HR (his first collegiate home run), and five RBI.
“TAKE ‘EM TO CHURCH!” - @Darren_Headrick @reuben_church12 put the exclamation point on his @SEC Freshman of the Week candidacy with a towering blast for his first collegiate #BigBlueBomb! pic.twitter.com/TsJz4y2ZCt— Kentucky Baseball (@UKBaseball) February 28, 2021
Alongside him future first round draft pick John Rhodes hit .333, with one HR, and four RBI.
This team was billed coming in as being able to produce runs with the best of them, and it was pitching that would play a big role in how competitive they would be throughout the season. If this week is any indication it doesn't appear it will be a huge problem.
Starting off the week highly touted freshman Ryan Hagenow got the start on Tuesday, going four strong innings without allowing a run in his debut. He also struck out six, to go alongside one hit. That was followed up this weekend by solid outings from starters Cole Stupp, Zack Lee, and Mason Hazelwood. With the bullpen coming in strong as well the team seems like it could come into conference play ready to compete.
The team will return to action for five games this week at Kentucky Proud Park. Playing Tuesday afternoon against Eastern Kentucky, Wednesday afternoon against Evansville, and finishing off with a weekend series against Ball Sate.
Nick Mingione also received a three-year contract extension this week to keep him in Lexington until 2025.
The softball Cats continued their hot start this week, improving to 14-0 on the season. With the best record in program history the team is showing no signs of slowing down soon. This weekend the team played in The Spring Games in Florida, and knocked off New Mexico State, Florida International, and Stetson University.
The team continued their offensive tear they have been on this whole season. Kayla Kowalik continues her hot start to the season, Renee Abernathy also added a walk off triple to beat FIU on Saturday.
✅ Walk-off's— Kentucky Softball (@UKsoftball) February 26, 2021
✅ Chest bumps
You love to see it. pic.twitter.com/hdC0xYmelD
But the player who continues to shine even after coming off SEC freshman of the week is Erin Coffel. Hitting .453 with eight HR, and 25 RBI to start the season she is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Coming into Kentucky she was ranked as the seventh best player in the country by FLOsoftball, and became one of the highest rated recruits to ever sign with Kentucky. Let’s just say Coach Lawson and her staff sure are pumped they won out in this recruitment.
To go along with the potent offensive attack this team brings we also saw a no-hitter thrown against Stetson on Sunday. That no hitter was thrown by Grace Baalman, who has started the season 5-0, and Miranda Stoddard, who has appeared in relief 3 times this season.
This team is legit. In what is a tough SEC conference when it comes to softball, one could argue that Rachel Lawson and her team will be right in the mix to compete through it all.
They will continue play this week in the Florida Atlantic University Tournament and play 6 games this weekend. They will play Pittsburgh, FAU, Illinois State, and Coastal Carolina.