BUIES CREEK, N.C. - Catcher and center fielder Kayla Kowalik reached base in all eight of her at bats on Sunday afternoon as she notched two home runs, three singles and two walks to go along with reaching on an error as the No. 12 Kentucky Softball team beat NC Central 14-0 and Mt. St. Mary's 10-0 to improve to 9-0 on the year.
Kowalik had nothing short of an unbelievable week in the batter's box in Kentucky's six games the last three days, hitting .750 with 13 runs scored, 15 hits, a pair of doubles, three home runs and a triple. Additionally, in the field, the junior from New Braunfels, Texas was a perfect 21-for-21 in putouts behind the dish and caught both balls hit her way when she played center.
Kentucky is now 9-0 on the season, continuing the best start in program history since 2014. The Wildcats will next play in Orlando, Florida at The Spring Games. UK will play five games over three days with matchups against New Mexico State (2), Stetson (2) and Florida International at the Legend's Way Ballfields in Clermont.
In game one on Sunday, Renee Abernathy got the scoring started with an RBI triple in the first inning and didn't look back. UK took advantage of an NC Central error to carry a 5-0 lead into the fourth inning where things took off from there. In the fourth, UK scored nine runs on eight hits as Grace Baalman hammered a three-run home run and Kowalik drilled a two-run shot in the inning bookending a stretch of seven hits in eight batters for the Wildcats.
In the circle, Sloan Gayan picked up her first win of the young season, as she went 3.0 innings without allowing a run, surrendering just one hit and striking out four while walking one. Stephanie Schoonover finished the shutout with the final two innings of work, allowing no runs on a trio of hits.
In UK's second game against Mt. St. Mary's, it was the Kayla Kowalik show again, as the junior went 3-for-4 with two singles, a home run and advancing on an error. Kentucky's offense used the big inning to propel itself to another major win, scoring five runs in the fifth inning thanks to five-straight hits to begin the frame, and four of them serving as extra-base hits.
Autumn Humes continued her stellar start to 2021, throwing a complete-game shutout, her second of the young season in the circle. Humes went the distance allowing just four hits the entire game, and striking out nine batters.