Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Sagermann, softball freshmen 'lived the dream' in NCAA opener

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Nikki Sagermann had two hits and the walk-off RBI in UK's 2-1 win over Marshall on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics) Nikki Sagermann had two hits and the walk-off RBI in UK's 2-1 win over Marshall on Friday. (Chet White, UK Athletics)
Heading to the eighth inning, Nikki Sagermann was due up fourth as the Kentucky softball team looked to break a 1-1 extra-inning tie against Marshall at John Cropp Stadium.

She watched from the dugout as Griffin Joiner led off with a double and Lauren Cumbess was intentionally walked. Sagermann was in the on-deck circle when runners advanced to second and third on an Andi Williamson wild pitch and she quickly realized it would all come down to her.

When Marshall opted to load the bases with a second straight intentional walk, the freshman third baseman was left pondering how she would approach her potential game-winning at-bat.

"I was just thinking, 'Get a sac fly,' " Sagermann said. "Because if they catch it, they can run home easily."

But just before she strode to the plate, her head coach pulled her aside. Rachel Lawson wanted her to think in even simpler terms.

"Coach told me to get behind the ball and get the ball on my barrel," Sagermann said.

Sagermann did exactly that, delivering a clean single up the middle to score pinch runner Sarah Frazer and give UK its first-ever postseason extra-inning win and school-record-tying seventh on the season.

"I got a hit, so it's even better," Sagermann said.

Sagermann - who went 2-for-3 in her NCAA Tournament debut - did a lot more than just hit on Friday. Against a Marshall team intent on keeping the ball on the ground and capitalizing on its speed, Sagermann's glove was put to the test. She responded with a team-high six assists and three more putouts, the last of which - a leaping catch of an Alexandra Bayne line drive - preserved a tie in the top of the eighth and stranded runners on second and third.

"That was crazy," Sagermann said. "That was a lot of emotions going on. I was really happy, still am."

Sagermann's happiness was clear as she fielded questions from reporters with a nearly constant smile, though she was a bit uncomfortable talking nonstop about what an excellent game she had just played.

"She's so used to me yelling at her all the time, she doesn't know how to take all this," Lawson said.

Through the first half of the season, most of that yelling was about Sagermann's defense. Her role was mostly limited to a role as designated hitter early in the year due to defensive limitations, but Lawson believed she was capable of more. One practice, Lawson told her that she could be UK's regular third baseman by simply being consistent with the glove.

"Since then, she's been making the plays," Lawson said. "And so as a coach it was really cool for me to see her - not just that last catch that she had - she made a lot of catches in that game. To see how far she's come in such a short amount of time has really been something special."

Sagermann was joined in the postgame press conference by fellow freshman Kelsey Nunley, who pitched all eight innings to move to 25-8 on the season. Three more classmates were also in the starting lineup: shortstop Christian Stokes, centerfielder Sylver Samuel and leftfielder Maisie Steed.

"I love our freshman class," Sagermann said. "We're a big family. We love each other and our team is really accepting of us. They had really had to teach us and make us adapt to be better."

But without the commitment by the freshmen to improve, none of the five would be in this position and their team likely wouldn't either.

"It's nice to see all their hard work pay off in the postseason and win their first game," Lawson said.

A victory in their first game now sets up an opportunity for their second on short rest. UK will take on Virginia Tech - which defeated Notre Dame 4-3 - at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday. But for at least a short while, Sagermann is going to enjoy this first one.

"I just lived the dream, and I'm still living it and I have three more years of it," Sagermann said.

So how does a college freshman celebrate one of the best nights of her career?

"I usually just hang out with my family and eat," Sagermann said.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/46217

Leave a comment




Recent Comments