Photo by Keyli Chisesi | Go Big Blue Country
Rachael Metzger and Grace Baalman Power Kentucky to 10-0 Win vs. Notre Dame
LEXINGTON, Ky – Rachael Metzger’s pinch hit Grand Slam fueled a six run fourth inning to help Kentucky Softball coast to a 10-0 win in vs. Notre Dame on Saturday.
A total of 1,225 fans were in attendance at John Cropp Stadium as right handed pitcher Grace Baalman took care of business in the circle. She needed just 58 pitches to retire 17 Irish hitters while only giving up two hits.
“What I liked the most was the fact that she came out and she threw really hard,” said Lawson. “When she’s throwing hard that means the ball is really spinning.”
It was the first postseason start of Baalman’s career and she admitted that nerves existed early on in the first inning. She retired the first two batters she faced, but Notre Dame shortstop Morgan Reed laced a ball off the glove of UK shortstop Katie Reed that led to a triple. From that point on, she retired 13 of the next 14 batters.
“I just went out there and threw a game I could throw,” said Baalman. “My job is to keep our team in the game and allow as few runs as possible and just play behind that defense.”
Offensively, the Wildcats racked up a total of ten runs on ten hits, led by Mallory Peyton (3-for-3, 1 RBI) and Abbey Cheek (2-for-3, 3 RBI). Cheek got the Wildcats on the board with a two-out double off the right field wall in the top of third that plated Erin Rethlake and Jenny Schaper. The Wildcats took a 2-0 lead to the fourth, where Metzger’s second career Grand Slam opened things up.
“It was actually a very easy decision,” said Rachel Lawson on the decision to pinch hit Metzger. “We’ve been working on it all year and we started to set ourselves up for this at the SEC Tournament. Things didn’t go the way we wanted it to in the SEC tournament, but it was the stage that we needed to be in to prepare us for today.”
Metzger typically just gets one at bat per game in a pinch hit role and she does anything she can to contribute to the team. The senior from Bakersfield (CA.) stepped into the box aiming for at least a sacrifice fly, but the ball carried over the left field wall.
“It kind of just blurred by,” said Metzger. “I know Coach Lawson told me going into the box to just shoot for a SAC fly and I knew that was my job. That’s what I was hoping for, but it went over.”
Kentucky will face the winner of Notre Dame/Michigan at 2:30 p.m. ET. on Sunday. A win would give Kentucky a Regional championship and a berth in the Super Regionals. A loss would force a winner take all Regional final on Monday.