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Kentucky softball slugs its way past Miami (Ohio) in its NCAA Tournament opener

Taylor Ebbs helped power the Kentucky softball team to an opening win in the NCAA Tournament on Friday afternoon.

The sophomore outfielder/infielder from Keizer, Oregon, hit two homers and drove in five runs in the Wildcats’ 9-1 defeat of Miami (Ohio) in six innings in Evanston, Illinois.

UK was to play host Northwestern, the winner of Friday’s second game against Eastern Illinois, in the winner’s bracket on Saturday.

Kentucky’s display of strength at the plate against the RedHawks didn’t stop with Ebbs.

The Wildcats also got a home run from junior star Erin Coffel, whose three-run blast went over the roof of Welsh-Ryan Arena, Northwestern’s basketball venue, in the sixth inning. According to Northwestern’s website, Coffel is the seventh player to hit a fair ball over the roof of Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Junior infielder Grace Lorsung’s solo homer followed Coffel’s and induced the run rule for the second straight season against Miami (Ohio).

Stephanie Schoonover pitched the first three innings for UK, and she allowed one run on two hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Kennedy Sullivan earned the win by throwing the final three innings without surrendering a hit.

Miami (Ohio) dropped to the loser’s bracket and was to play Eastern Illinois on Saturday.

Knoxville Regional

Tennessee 10, Northern Kentucky 0: NKU made its NCAA Tournament debut in a tough spot, facing fourth-ranked regional host Tennessee on Friday.

Payton Gottshall (14-1) pitched a five-inning no-hitter as the SEC regular season and tournament champion Volunteers (45-8) run-ruled the Norse (23-31).

Northern Kentucky was to face Louisville in the losers’ bracket of the double-elimination Knoxville Regional on Saturday. Tennessee was to take on Indiana.

Indiana 4, Louisville 3: The Hoosiers (43-16) hit three home runs and totaled 10 hits, scoring all four of their runs in the first three innings before turning back a late rally by the Cardinals (35-19).

Korbe Ortis had two of Louisville’s seven hits. The Cardinals put the tying run on base in the seventh but could not push her across the plate.