Cat Scratches
Interactive Twitter Facebook

Cumbess' bat heats up to send softball to win in chilly NCAA opener

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
Senior Lauren Cumbess had two RBI in UK's 2-0 win over Ohio on Friday night at the Lexington Regional. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics) Senior Lauren Cumbess had two RBI in UK's 2-0 win over Ohio on Friday night at the Lexington Regional. (Britney Howard, UK Athletics)
On an unseasonably cool evening at John Cropp Stadium, Lauren Cumbess' bat heated up to fuel the Kentucky softball team to a 2-0 victory over Ohio in the first game of the NCAA Regional.

Cumbess, who went 0-for-11 at the SEC Tournament last weekend, but went 1-for-2 Friday with a home run and drove in both UK runs.

"There was no secret," Cumbess said. "We practiced hard all week and worked on hitting different pitches in the zone and it was all about the right place at the right time."

The junior captain got things started in the bottom of the second with a home run to give UK an early 1-0 lead. Cumbess sent an 0-1 pitch over the right-field wall for the Wildcats' first hit of the game.

"I was just looking for my pitch and on that count it happened to be it," Cumbess said. "I swung at the first pitch, so I wanted to be aggressive and make something happen as the leadoff batter in that inning. I swung at the first one and missed it, and the second pitch looked like it was even more in my zone. I just went for it. It felt pretty good coming off the bat."

The homer was Cumbess' ninth of the season and third in NCAA Tournament play.

It came at the perfect time for the Wildcats, after starting pitcher Kelsey Nunley labored through the first two innings and allowed an Ohio baserunner to reach in the first two frames, each via walk.

Nunley allowed two runners to reach base in the third and one in the fourth, but she didn't allow a runner to score. As the sophomore continued to warm up, her pitches got even more effective and the Bobcat batters were retired in order in the fifth and sixth inning.

Three outs away from an opening-game victory, Cumbess once again helped plate a valuable insurance run in the sixth. Senior Emily Gaines led off with a double down the right field line. Sophomore Maisie Steed went in as a pinch runner and stole third to set up Cumbess.

Cumbess flied out to right field, but it was enough to score Steed and put the Wildcats ahead 2-0.

"Especially after Maisie's delayed steal, I knew I had to get something, really stay behind it," Cumbess said. "It was either go up the middle or somewhere in the outfield and I knew she would score. Maisie is a smart baserunner, so I knew if I did my job and put it anywhere relative to where she could score, she could do it."

The 2-0 lead was all Nunley needed to secure the win and her seventh shutout of the year, good for second most in a season in program history. The win also gave Nunley seven postseason victories in her career, which extended her program-record mark.

The first win is always important, and puts the Wildcats in a good position going into Saturday's winner's bracket game with James Madison.

"It's important that you always get the first win in the tournament," UK head coach Rachel Lawson said. "That way you can kick the tires a little bit and get a little bit looser. Anytime you can get the first win in a postseason tournament I think that helps. It helps your pitching, it helps your defense relax a little bit and it helps the girls sleep a little bit better."

Going forward, the road doesn't get any easier. Kentucky will face James Madison on Saturday at 1 p.m. ET. JMU downed DePaul in the regional's first game, 6-1.

The winner advances to Sunday, while the loser will play at 6 p.m. against the winner of Saturday's second game, between Ohio and DePaul at 3 p.m.

At stake in the double elimination tournament is a trip to the NCAA Super Regionals. The Wildcats, seeded in the top 16 in the 64-team field for the second consecutive season, will look to make their third trip to the Super Regionals in the last four years.

No TrackBacks

TrackBack URL: http://cstv.collegesports.com/mt5.2/mt-tb.cgi/54728

Leave a comment




Recent Comments