While the sports fans living inside the state of Kentucky are preparing for football seas..."/> While the sports fans living inside the state of Kentucky are preparing for football seas..."/>

Former UK Athlete Bleeds Red


While the sports fans living inside the state of Kentucky are preparing for football season, kids across the country are wrapping up their Little League post-season play. On ESPN, throughout the month of August, you can catch both Little League Softball and Baseball World Series games. The game of softball is a sport that wasn’t always popular in the Bluegrass state, at least the fast version.

Prior to 1995, Kentucky High Schools offered slow-pitch softball; which was intended to be the equivalent of baseball. However, colleges and universities across the country only participated in fast-pitch softball. Therefore, Kentucky females were at a disadvantage and their chances to earn a scholarship and further their education as a student-athlete were minimal. Back in 1987, a group of people from Louisville recognized this gap between slow and fast-pitch and decided to sue the state and Kentucky High School Athletic Association. It took 8 years in and out of court and many references to Title IX, but successful.

In 1997, the University of Kentucky fielded a fast-pitch softball team for the first time in school history. The University of Louisville’s inaugural season came a few years later in 2000. Only a few other state colleges and universities supported softball prior, such as Eastern Kentucky University in the early ’90s. The impact of the lawsuit was visible.

To build it’s pitching staff and gain a position player UK signed Lorie Horner; transfer from Eastern Kentucky University. Horner was also the primary plaintiff in the lawsuit. In addition, Horner never got the opportunity to play fast-pitch at Louisville Central High School as she graduated a year prior to it’s implementation. While she only had two-years of eligibility at UK, several of her records from 1997-1998 still stand against players who competed for 4 full seasons.  The pitcher and first-baseman is currently second in fielding (.982), seventh in put-outs (490) and innings pitched (243.1), and eighth in strikeouts (113) to name a few career records.

After her playing career ended, Horner continued to promote the game around the state. Horner has conducted numerous camps and clinics in various Kentucky cities. Many of her clients have went on to play at the collegiate level. These accomplishments were recognized by the University of Louisville and head coach Sandy Pearsall. In January 2011, Pearsall announced Horner as the second annual Spirt of Softball recipient for her commitment to advancing the game of softball in Louisville and around the state. Horner concluded her acceptance speech in 2011 at the team’s Bullpen Club Dinner by throwing up a “L”. She also threw-out the first pitch at Ulmer Stadium when the Cards started conference play.

While ironic that Louisville would honor a former UK athlete, it was well deserved and speaks volumes about the professionalism of the Louisville athletic department. Horner is a long-time Cardinals fan and will be wearing red when UK visits on September 2.