With No. 24 North Carolina coming to town, the Kentucky softball team likely thought it was in store for yet another close game.
Entering Tuesday's game, the Wildcats had already won nine games by two runs or less. UK had won all four of its extra-inning games to boot.
It turns out the game didn't last a regulation seven innings after all, but not because of a tie game. No. 17 UK jumped all over the visiting Tar Heels to the tune of 12 first-inning runs and didn't look back from there en route to an 18-0 victory in just five innings during which the school record books underwent quite the facelift.
Freshman starter Katie Henderson completed the ninth no-hitter in program history, allowing just a single walk in five innings. She struck out four and needed just 58 pitches in facing just two batters over the minimum. Henderson is now 2-0 on the season with 12 strikeouts and zero runs allowed in 10.0 innings.
At the plate, the day was just as memorable.
Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner had hits in all four of her at-bats, including two first-inning singles and home runs in the second and fourth innings to give her six on the season. She had six runs batted in on the day to become the fourth player in school history to accomplish the feat and a game-high four runs scored, the sixth time in school history a player scored that many times.
Three other Wildcats had multi-hit days, including junior Lauren Cumbess with a home run and three runs scored. Freshman Christian Stokes added a grand slam in the first inning.
All told, UK's 18 runs and 18 RBI are school records, The Cats' four home runs tie a record mark and the 18-run margin of victory is the largest ever. UK moves to 19-4 on the season, tying the school-best start through 23 games set in 2011.
Don't take my word for it though. Here are video highlights from from.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, March 10:
Men's basketball: Archie Goodwin
Freshman Archie Goodwin led the Wildcats to a marquee victory over visiting No. 9/11 Florida on Saturday, after earning a 20-point scoring effort at Georgia on Thursday. For the week, the Little Rock, Ark., native averaged a team-high 18.0 points per game. He ranked second on the team with a .429 shooting clip. He was the only guard to log double-figure rebounds for the week and his six steals topped the squad. Against the Bulldogs, Goodwin turned in his fifth 20-point effort and second against conference competition. He sunk a career-high three 3-pointers and hauled in six rebounds. In the upset of the season for UK, Goodwin led the team with 16 points including nine in the second half. His steal and dunk tied the game at 57 and he then hit one free throw for UK's final lead en route to the win. In the second stanza he also notched a trio of steals to push his career-high total for swipes in a game to four. Furthermore, Goodwin has scored in double-figures a team-leading 23 times this season including in six-straight contests.
Baseball: Corey Littrell
Junior left-handed All-America starter Corey Littrell turned in his best start of the year in leading UK to a series win over Michigan State during a Sunday afternoon rubber match ... Littrell worked seven strong innings allowing only one run on four hits, walking one batter and striking out a career-high nine batters ... He carried a shutout into the seventh inning, only surrendering a single hit through his first six shutout innings ... Battled through the seventh after three consecutive hits plated the first run of the game for the Spartans, getting the final two outs to set up the UK bullpen for the save in the 3-1 game ... He fired 100 pitches in the start, with 69 going for strikes ... After an All-Southeastern Conference season in 2012 as the Sunday starter, Littrell reasserted himself as the series-winning starter in rubber matches, making his eighth rubber-match start in the last two years vs. Michigan ... In those eight series-deciding games, Littrell has led UK to eight wins and owned a 6-0 record with a 2.8 ERA ... On the year, Littrell had made four starts with a 2-0 record and a 3.42 ERA, tossing 23.2 innings, allowing 22 hits and eight walks, striking out 24 ... With his 17th career win on Sunday, Littrell had now moved into a five-way tie for 10th in UK career history, seven wins shy of the program mark.
Baseball: Paul McConkey
Junior Paul McConkey paced the Wildcats in multiple offensive categories during a four-game week, batting .444 (4-for-9) in three games ... The third baseman led UK to a series win over 2012 NCAA Tournament team Michigan State, a 37-win club in 2012 ... McConkey had three RBI and belted a homer during the week, reaching base at a .500 clip ...Hit the game-winning, two-run double in a 3-1 win on Sunday vs. Michigan State, good for his second game-winning RBI of the year ... On the year, McConkey has hit .324 (11-for-34) with three doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBI.
Softball: Christian Stokes
Christian Stokes had the best weekend of her young collegiate career against Ole Miss, hitting .833 (5-for-6) with her first collegiate home run and two multi-hit games. Stokes started all three games at second base against the Rebels, earning a hit in each game, while posting a .889 on-base percentage for the weekend. The native of Chesterfield, S.C., went 2-for-3 in the series opener, including launching a solo homer in the seventh inning - the first homer of her career. In game two, Stokes scored a run after going 1-for-1 with a single and two walks, helping UK tie the series at a game apiece. Stokes finished the series off in style with a 2-for-2 effort in the finale, including two RBI. She is currently riding a season-best three-game hitting streak whiles hitting .279 (12-for-43) with one double, one homer, 12 RBI and four runs scored this season.
Men's basketball - Kentucky went 1-1 on the week which included a critical upset of No. 9/11 Florida on Saturday. - Freshman Archie Goodwin was sensational in leading the Cats with an average of 18.0 points, five rebounds and three steals in two games this week. Goodwin snatched a career-high four steals in the upset of the Gators and had a team-high 16 points. - With the win over Florida, UK improves to 10-0 at home in Rupp Arena against ranked foes in the John Calipari era. - The win also helped seal the No. 2 overall seed in the SEC Tournament. UK has won the tournament twice in Calipari's tenure.
Women's basketball - Kentucky advanced to the SEC Championship game for the third time in four seasons before falling to Texas A&M. - UK logged wins against Vanderbilt and No. 12 Georgia en route to making its title game appearance. - UK outscored the Lady Dawgs 41-14 in the second half, holding them scoreless for the final 6:08 of the game, and 22.2 percent (14-of-63) shooting for the game. - Senior All-America candidate A'dia Mathies (Louisville, Ky.) added 11 points and grabbed two steals which set a new UK career steals record with 310. The previous record was 309 set by Stacey Reed from 1991-95.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team placed second at the NCAA Championships, shooting a 4670 to place runner-up for a second consecutive year. - Senior Henri Junghänel placed second in individual smallbore, falling by .5 points to claim the silver medal. - Freshman Connor Davis finished fourth individually in air rifle. - Kentucky had six members named All-America, including Connor Davis, Heather Greathouse, Emily Holsopple, Ed Ryznar, Elijah Ellis and Stacy Wheatley. Henri Junghanel would have been selected but was not eligible because he is currently in graduate school.
Gymnastics - The 20th-ranked Kentucky Gymnastics team topped 196 for the third consecutive meet in a 196.375-192.7 win over Bowling Green on Friday. - Kayla Hartley clinched the second-highest team score in school history with a 9.9 floor exercise routine. The performance gave Hartley the event title for the second week in a row. It was also her first 9.9 since the season-opener. The junior has three event crowns from the past two meets. - The Wildcats scored 49.125 on floor, which tied the season high. - Kenzie Hedges took the event honors on vault as she stuck her landing for a career-best 9.875.
Softball - The No. 15 UK softball team started its Southeastern Conference schedule in style by winning its series with the Ole Miss Rebels. UK dropped the first game of the series 3-1, before winning the final two games 5-2. The series win is the sixth consecutive over Ole Miss and marks the second time in three years UK has won the opening series of conference play. The series vs. Ole Miss was the first ever games played in the new UK Softball Complex. - Freshman infielder Christian Stokes led the way for Kentucky, hitting .833 (5-for-6) for the weekend with three RBI and her first collegiate home run. Junior Lauren Cumbess went 3-for-9 over the weekend with a double, while junior Emily Gaines was 2-for-6 with two RBI. - Freshman pitcher Kelsey Nunley suffered her first loss of the season in game one before earning wins Saturday and Sunday in a relief effort. Nunley is 12-1 on the year with a 2.02 ERA, striking out a team-best 67 batters. Baseball - Seventh-ranked Kentucky completed a 3-1 week with a series win over Michigan State during the weekend, also picking up a midweek win over Xavier on Wednesday. - UK opened the series with the Spartans with a 2-1 win on Friday night. Sophomore left-hander A.J. Reed worked seven shutout innings, allowing only five hits and two walks. All-American centerfielder Austin Cousino got UK on the board with a first-inning homer, before Max Kuhn slugged his first career homer in the bottom of the eighth as the game-winning bomb. - Kentucky won the series on Sunday in another rubber-match win from junior southpaw Corey Littrell, making his eighth series-deciding start in the last two years. The All-America starter worked seven innings and allowed just one run, striking out a career-high nine.
Men's tennis - The UK men's tennis team fell twice this weekend, to No. 38 Baylor and No. 14 Texas A&M. - Kentucky's road trip continues next weekend traveling to Ole Miss for a Friday showdown in Oxford before continuing the weekend in Starkville against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Women's tennis - No. 44 Kentucky went 1-1 over the weekend, defeating No. 57 Missouri 5-2 on Friday, before falling to No. 4 Texas A&M 5-2 on Sunday. - Freshman Nadia Ravita knocked off sixth-ranked Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar on Sunday 2-6, 6-4, 6-2. The win was Ravita's 13th singles win and fourth win over a ranked opponent this year. - In Kentucky's win over Missouri, the Wildcats received singles wins in slots one through four, with Nadia Ravita, Jessica Stiles, Edmee Morin-Kougoucheff and Caitlin McGraw winning in straight sets.
Track and field - The No. 20 Kentucky women's track and field team finished the NCAA Indoor Championships tied for 20th-place. The Wildcats earned the program's highest team finish since 1994 when they also finished tied for 20th. The Wildcats' 10 team points was the highest total at the National Championship Meet since 1990. - Cally Macumber won the bronze medal in the women's 3,000 meters final to add six points to the Kentucky cause. She also contributed four on Friday night as the anchor in the distance medley relay. - Morganne Phillips, Allison Peare and Chelsea Oswald were the other members of that squad. - Keith Hayes scored two points for the men with a seventh-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles. Hayes lowered his school-record time to 7.69 in the event prelims to reach the final.
Men's golf - The Kentucky men's golf team finished seventh out of the 17-team field at the USF Invitational, shooting 20 strokes over par for the tournament. - Junior Stephen Powers recorded his second top-10 finish of the year, placing tied for sixth at 2-under-par. The Naperville, Ill., native was tied for the lead after the first round, posting a 4-under-par day and concluded his impressive tournament with an even par round two and two-over-par round three. - Junior Ben Stow also finished in the top-20, tying for 14th overall at 1-over-par.
Monday, March 11 Men's golf at Tiger Invitational (Auburn, Ala.)
Tuesday, March 12 Baseball hosts Ohio - 4:00 p.m. Softball hosts North Carolina - 5:00 p.m. Men's golf at Tiger Invitational (Auburn, Ala.) Wednesday, March 13 Softball hosts Southern Illinois • 3:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Cincinnati • 4:00 p.m.
Thursday, March 14 Swimming and diving at NCAA Zones - 10:00 a.m. (West Lafayette, Ind.) Track and field at Bulls Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)
Friday, March 15 Men's tennis at Ole Miss - 2:00 p.m. Women's tennis hosts Ole Miss - 4:00 p.m. Softball at LSU - 7:00 p.m. Baseball at Florida - 7:30 p.m. Men's basketball vs. Arkansas/Vanderbilt - 7:30 p.m. (Nashville) Swimming and diving at NCAA Zones - 10:00 a.m. (West Lafayette, Ind.) Women's golf at Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate (Augusta, Ga.) Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
Saturday, March 16 Baseball at Florida - Noon Softball at LSU - 5:00 p.m. Gymnastics at Penn State - 7:00 p.m. Men's basketball at SEC Semifinals - 3:30 p.m. (Nashville) Swimming and diving at NCAA Zones - 10:00 a.m. (West Lafayette, Ind.) Women's golf at Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate (Augusta, Ga.) Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
Sunday, March 17 Women's tennis hosts Mississippi State - Noon Softball at LSU - 1:00 p.m. Baseball at Florida - 1:00 p.m. Men's tennis at Mississippi State - 1:00 p.m. Men's basketball at SEC Finals - 3:30 p.m. (Nashville) Women's golf at Insperity Lady Jaguar Intercollegiate (Augusta, Ga.) Men's golf at Schenkel Invitational (Statesboro, Ga.)
As the northernmost school in the Southeastern Conference, Kentucky is supposed to be at some sort of a competitive disadvantage in outdoor spring sports. Don't tell that to UK's baseball and softball teams.
As they prepare for their final non-conference weekend series vs. Michigan State, the baseball Wildcats sit at 11-1 and are in the midst of an eight-game winning streak. UK is hitting .325 as a team and is outscoring opponents by more than 6.5 runs per game.
Softball, meanwhile, is off to a school-record 16-3 start and is in the midst of an eight-game winning streak of its own. The Cats have already won four games against ranked opponents and two against teams that reached last year's Women's College World Series.
Pollsters have taken notice of the strong starts by both teams. Baseball is ranked No. 7 according to Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, No. 10 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, No. 11 by Baseball America and No. 11 in the USA Today Coaches poll. Softball checks in at No. 17 in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll and No. 15 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll - UK's highest ranking in the history of the poll.
Those rankings put the Wildcats in a select group. UK is one of just five schools nationally to rank in the top 17 of every major baseball and softball poll. The other universities on that list are Oklahoma, LSU, UCLA and Oregon.
Baseball and softball aren't alone in their success either.
Men's and women's basketball are heading for postseason play. Third-ranked rifle bids for a second national championship in three seasons on Saturday. Men's tennis is 14-2 and is ranked higher that at any point since 2004. Women's tennis is on the rise and ranked No. 44. Edrick Floreal is ushering in a new era of UK track and field and has the women's team ranked No. 20 in indoors. The football team is on the cusp of spring practice and tickets to the Blue/White Spring Game are being snapped up at an unprecedented rate.
To put it another way, UK Athletics could be primed for a memorable spring.
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, March 3:
Softball: Lauren Cumbess
Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess had an outstanding week in the circle, going 2-0 with a 0.58 ERA. Cumbess pitched against USF, which is receiving votes and went to the 2012 Women's College World Series, and Central Michigan. The native of Normal, Ill., came on in the fifth inning against USF and threw five hitless innings, striking out four and retiring 15 of the 16 batters she faced. She was also impressive against CMU, allowing an earned run in the first inning on two hits, but only one hit the remainder of the game. After giving up the run against CMU, Cumbess retired 18 of the next 20 batters she faced, including six by strikeout. For the season, Cumbess is 4-1 with a 2.39 ERA, throwing 38 innings with 36 strikeouts and only 13 earned runs allowed. The two-way player has also hit well this season, leading the team with a .373 average on top of 22 hits, four doubles, two homers and a team-high 18 RBI.
Softball: Kara Dill
Senior Kara Dill ended the tournament on a three-game hitting streak after her impressive 3-for-3 performance in UK's win over Western Michigan. Dill had two singles and a triple against the Broncos, while scoring three runs and stealing base. The native of LaGrange, Ohio, played solid defense on the weekend as well, making several nice plays in the field. Dill has hit leadoff in every game but one this season, leading UK in hits and runs scored with a strong on-base percentage of .403. Dill is hitting .358 for the season with four stolen bases and six multi-hit games.
Baseball: Greg Fettes
Freshman catcher Greg Fettes made a pair of starts during the week behind the plate, batting 4-for-6 with a double and three RBI ... In his first career home start in the 2013 home opener, Fettes collected a single and a sacrifice fly ... Earned his third career start vs. Akron on Saturday, catching a dynamic pitching outing from Jerad Grundy, with the senior southpaw tossing eight shutout, two-hit innings with Fettes behind the dish ... Went a career-high 3-for-4 with two RBI and a double in the win over Akron ... On the year, Fettes - a 43rd round pick of the Detroit Tigers out of high school - has hit .750 (6-for-8) with two doubles and three RBI.
Baseball: Jerad Grundy
Senior southpaw Jerad Grundy had the best start of his career in a win over Akron on Saturday ... Worked eight shutout, two-hit innings, not allowing a walk and striking out a career-best 12 ... Became the first UK pitcher to strike out 12 hitters since Alex Meyer fanned 13 in a start vs. Niagara in 2011 ... He allowed only a pair of singles with no base runners advancing past first base ... He retired the first eight hitters he faced before an infield single, including seven by strikeout ... Rated as the seventh-best senior in college baseball by Baseball America in the preseason, he retired 13 consecutive after allowing a third-inning single ... Tossed only 86 pitches, including a staggering 68 for strikes ... Through his first three starts of 2013, has a 3-0 record and a 0.43 ERA, allowing only one earned run in 21 innings, striking out 24 and holding opponents to a .125 average ... In his two-year UK career, has a 9-3 record and a 3.12 ERA in 19 starts, tossing 106.2 innings and striking out 87.
Women's basketball: A'dia Mathies
Senior guard A'dia Mathies led 10th-ranked Kentucky to wins over Ole Miss (90-65) and No. 8/8 Tennessee (78-65) last week.
Averaged a team-high 18.0 points per contest, along with 4.0 rebounds, 3.0 steals and 2.0 assists per game.
Scored 20 points at Ole Miss, marking her seventh 20-point game of the season, including second straight.
Scored 13 of her team-high 16 points in the decisive second half against Tennessee, including back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the Cats' lead to 17 with 12:06 remaining in the game.
Hit 5-of-9 from behind the arc in the two games for .556 percent. The five 3-pointers moved her up to No. 7 on UK's single season 3-point field goals list with 60.
Displayed her defensive abilities against the Lady Vols, tying season highs with four steals and two blocks in the contest.
Has now reached double figures in 27-of-29 games this season, including 20 in a row and every SEC game.
Ranks in the top 10 on 13 UK career lists, including No. 2 in scoring (1,899), No. 3 in steals (303), and fourth in field goals made (706) and 3-pointers made (164).
With four steals vs. Tennessee, she became just the third player in school history to have 300 or more in her career.
First player in UK history (men or women) to accumulate over 1,800 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 300 steals in her career.
The SEC's active career scoring and steals leader.
Leads the team in scoring (16.0 ppg), 3-pointers made (60) and is second in assists (2.4) and steals (2.4) per game this season.
Averaging a team-high 18.2 points per game in SEC play and is tied for the team-high with 1.8 steals per contest.
Softball: Kelsey Nunley
Kelsey Nunley did not have the best week statistically in the circle, but provided clutch innings for Kentucky and got key outs that should propel UK into SEC play. The freshman went 3-0 overall with a 1.94 ERA in 21.2 innings with 18 strikeouts. Nunley started the first game of the tournament against Illinois, allowing two earned runs, while striking out five and only walking one over eight innings of play. After giving up three runs on three hits and three walks in the first inning vs. LMU, Nunley settled down to throw six scoreless innings the rest of the way, retiring 14 straight to end the game. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., came on in relief against Western Michigan, getting the final two outs of the first inning with the bases loaded, keeping the game tied before going the final 6.2 innings against WMU, allowing four hits and one earned run while striking out eight - just one off her career high, Overall this season, Nunley is 10-0 - believed to be the only player in school history to start a season 10-0 in the circle - with a team-low 2.16 ERA, throwing 68.0 innings, allowing 21 earned runs with a team-best 55 strikeouts.
Baseball: A.J. Reed
Sophomore two-way star A.J. Reed had a historic week for the Wildcats, leading UK to five wins to extend its winning streak to seven games ... Drove in 15 RBI during the week, belting three homers and adding a double ... Hit .526 (10-for-19) during the week, with a 1.053 slugging and a .609 on-base percentage ... In UK's home opening win over Murray State, belted a three-run, first-inning homer to give UK an early lead, finishing with four RBI and a pair of hit by pitches ... On Wednesday, scored a run and collected a hit, before exploding in the series opener vs. Akron ... Went 4-for-5 in the opener vs. the Zips, with five RBI and his second homer of the week ... Also started the opener vs. Akron on the mound, tossing six innings and allowing only two runs on six hits and two walks, striking out four ... In the series-clincher on Saturday, belted a homer - his second consecutive game with a bomb - going 3-for-4 with three RBI and a walk ... In the sweep clincher on Sunday, Reed ripped a double off the centerfield wall to clear the bases, giving him three more RBI in a 1-for-3 game ... On the year, Reed leads UK with 22 RBI on four homers, a double and a triple, batting .409 (18-for-44) with 11 runs scored ... On the mound, as UK's Friday-night starter, Reed has a 2-1 record ... A preseason All-America honoree, Reed has hit .320 (78-for-244) in his two-year UK career with eight homers and 65 RBI, posting a 7-4 record with a 3.00 ERA on the mound.
Men's basketball - Kentucky went 1-1 on the week with a win over Mississippi State before falling at Arkansas on Saturday. - Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein continued his dynamic play by averaging 12.5 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.5 blocks and 1.5 steals per game this week. - With the win over the Bulldogs, UK secured its 57th 20-win season in program history - Kentucky was led in scoring by Arkansas native Archie Goodwin with 14 points in the loss to the Razorbacks. Women's basketball - After earning its school-record tying 13th SEC win with a commanding 78-65 victory over No. 8 Tennessee on Senior Day, Kentucky earned the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament. - The Wildcats have had another remarkable season under the direction of head coach Matthew Mitchell. Mitchell, who became UK's all-time winningest coach with the win over Tennessee, has led the Cats to a school-record fourth straight 25-win season with a 25-4 overall record, including a 13-3 mark in SEC play. - A'dia Mathies had led the team in scoring (16.0), 3-point field goals made (60) and 3-point field goal percentage (.403), and has reached double figures in 27-of-29 games, including 20 in a row
Gymnastics - The Kentucky gymnastics team shattered the school record with a 196.5 team score in a win at Ball State on Sunday. - Kentucky has now posted team scores of more than 196 two weeks in a row for the first time in school history. - Audrey Harrison won her fifth consecutive individual all-around title with a huge career-high score of 39.425. - The Knoxville, Tenn., native now has a Southeastern Conference-leading seven AA titles this season. Softball - For the second consecutive weekend, the No. 17 Kentucky softball team went undefeated in a weekend tournament, posting a 5-0 record in the 2013 Under Armour Invitational with wins against Illinois, USF, Loyola Marymount, Central Michigan and Western Michigan. - This is the first time in school history UK has gone undefeated in consecutive tournaments. - Senior Kara Dill led UK offensively over the weekend with a .353 (6-for-17) average, including six runs scored and her first triple of the season. - In the circle, Lauren Cumbess paced UK with a 2-0 record and 0.58 ERA in 12 innings pitched, including 11 strikeouts. True freshman Kelsey Nunley went 3-0 on the weekend with a 1.94 ERA, throwing 21.2 innings, allowing six earned runs with 18 strikeouts.
Baseball - The eighth-ranked Kentucky baseball team completed its first home week with five wins, including a series sweep over Akron during the weekend. UK picked up midweek wins over Murray State and Eastern Kentucky. - UK has been led individually by junior infielder J.T. Riddle, who has hit .447 (21-for-47) with three doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBI, stealing three bases and reaching base at a .527 clip. - On the mound, UK had a 2.57 ERA in 98 innings, walking only 27 and striking out 87, with opponents hitting .255, stealing only 3-of-7 bases and UKL picking off four runners. - During the five-game week, UK got a jaw-dropping hitting performance from Reed, who drove in 15 RBI with three homers and a double during the week, batting .526 (10-for-19).
Men's tennis - Kentucky opened the 2013 SEC season by collecting two wins over No. 49 Arkansas (5-2) on Friday and No. 39 LSU (4-0) on Sunday afternoon to move to 14-2 (2-0 SEC) on the season. - Senior No. 21 Anthony Rossi upped his record to 14-1 on the season, picking up wins number 95 and 96 in his career. Rossi has now won nine consecutive straight-set matches and has also won 18 of the last 19 sets he has played. - UK won the doubles point in both matches this weekend, as the Wildcats are now 11 for 13 this season in doubles competition.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team went 1-1 in the opening weekend of Southeastern Conference play. - After falling 4-3 at Arkansas on Friday, Kentucky traveled to Baton Rouge, La., and defeated the No. 63 Tigers 4-3. - Freshman Kirsten Lewis had a comeback win to clinch Kentucky's win over LSU, taking the No. 5 singles point 1-6, 7-5, 6-4. - Senior Jessica Stiles, sophomore Stephanie Fox and freshman Nadia Ravita all recorded singles wins in straight sets vs. LSU.
Track and field - Five Kentucky track and field athletes, four women and a man, are in position to qualify for this weekend's NCAA Indoor Championships as they own top-16 times. - The Women's Distance Medley Relay Team of Cally Macumber, Morganne Phillips, Allison Peare and Chelsea Oswald broke the school record with a time of 11:00.33 on Friday. - That time ranks No. 6 in the nation. - Keith Hayes broke the school 60-meter hurdles record with a time of 7.73 on Saturday. - That time ranks No. 9 n the nation.
Swimming and diving - The Kentucky swimming team sent several swimmers to the Bulldog Last Chance Meet this past weekend in Athens, Ga., attempting to earn qualifying times for the 2013 NCAA Championships. - Sophomore Christina Bechtel improved her time in the 100-butterfly with a 52.62, second best in program history in that event. The time likely will earn her a ticket to the NCAA Championships in Indianapolis, Ind., March 21-23. - Junior Lucas Gerotto also improved his time in the 100-backstroke while breaking his own program record in the event, finishing with a 47.19 to increase the likelihood that he is asked back for his second consecutive NCAA appearance.
Monday, March 4 Men's golf at USF Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)
Tuesday, March 5 Baseball hosts Cincinnati - 4:00 p.m. Men's golf at USF Invitational (Tampa, Fla.)
Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner leads the Wildcats with three home runs on the year. (Britney McIntosh, UK Athletics)
Another week means more wins and a different storyline this season for Kentucky softball. The Wildcats traveled to Spartanburg, S.C., last weekend where they had the likes of Georgetown, Howard and host team USC Upstate awaited their arrival.
After a grueling first two weeks of the season during which the Cats faced five nationally ranked teams in their first 11 games, they had an opportunity to work on some things offensively and defensively while allowing some players to see some live action.
The first two games of the weekend went as planned with Kentucky rolling over Georgetown and Howard. Junior hurler Ellen Weaver earned her second start of the season against the Hoyas, while head coach Rachel Lawson gave the ball to freshman pitcher Katie Henderson for her first career start against Howard.
The final game of the three game set came against USC Upstate, which sported a 10-0 record coming into the game. UK had yet to its their top two pitching performers in junior Lauren Cumbess and freshman Kelsey Nunley and Rachel Lawson elected to give the nod to the veteran Cumbess.
Lawson describes the game as a "boxing match" as both teams traded blows in an 11-inning affair in which the Cats prevailed 12-8. Kentucky fell behind in the game 4-0 after a first-inning grand slam by Upstate and Cumbess was knocked out of the game after just two frames.
"When they started off the first inning and they hit the grand slam, very easily we could have packed in," Lawson said. "Their stadium was packed and it was a really small environment so it was pretty loud. A young team a lot of times when they are in that situation sometimes gets a little nervous and they don't do well but in our case the cool thing was we kept chipping away and fighting back."
The sixth-year head coach then turned to her dynamic freshman right hander. Nunley pitched the final nine innings and the Wildcats fought back to finish 3-0 on the weekend.
Lawson said the game was probably one of the best her team has played all season because it was a total team effort. Offensively, Alice O'Brien and Griffin Joiner each connected for a round tripper, while Sylver Samuel and Ginny Carroll contributed late in the game with some clutch performances. Defense doesn't show up in the box score, but senior Kara Dill played tremendous at shortstop making play after play and O'Brien made a catch in right field in the later innings to keep the Cats' hopes alive.
According to Lawson, Upstate was one of the best hitting teams UK has faced this season and Nunley kept the Cats in the game shutting down the Spartans through the final nine innings, giving up just two earned runs.
Although Nunley is a freshman, she never feels alone in the circle because she has her counterpart in Cumbess playing defense right beside her and encouraging her every pitch.
"Shes always encouraging me telling me, 'You got this, you can do it," between every batter and that's really helped me along the way," Nunley said.
Lawson always prides her teams' mental toughness and Sunday's game was an epitome of what she instills in her players. Not only did Kentucky have to battle back from a 4-0 deficit, but the Cats also responded after Upstate tied the score in the seventh and ninth innings to extend the game.
It's tough for Lawson to say if this is the most mentally tough team she has ever coached because the season is so young and Southeastern Conference play is still ahead, but the Cats definitely are stacking up well so far.
"If we can continue to exhibit this mentality throughout I would argue this is probably our toughest team from game one all the way through the end," Lawson said. "I do believe right now this team is exhibiting as much mental toughness as I have seen out of any softball team."
The Wildcats are now 14 games into the season and Kentucky's eight freshmen have had a chance to get their feet wet at the collegiate level. That experience is manifesting itself in increased confidence, particularly in Maisie Steed, who had a home run and three RBIs against the Spartans.
Steed and Nunley were huge for the Cats over the weekend but the rest of the freshmen are starting to get more comfortable in their surroundings and finding their roles on the team.
"There was a lot of unknown when they went out to play Washington and Stanford and Cal. They had never seen anything like that," Lawson said. "I think they are just a lot more confident in the box, they understand they belong here now as opposed to wondering where they fit in. I think as they continue to get more opportunities and more at bats you are going to see them get better and better as the season progresses."
Kentucky returns to action this weekend when the Cats travel to Tampa, Fla., to play five games in three days. UK will face better overall competition than they did last weekend, including 2012 Women's College World Series participant South Florida.
Although the competition gets tougher, Lawson believes no team this weekend will be as good as what they faced against USC Upstate. If her team can play with that same intensity and mental edge as the Cats did versus the Spartans and are more aggressive at the dish, the weekend will be a success.
"I'm hoping they just pick right off where they left off with the Upstate game except for maybe a little better job in the circle so we don't give up as many hits," Lawson said. "I would like us to get back into a more aggressive-type mindset offensively instead of sitting. There is nothing wrong and I like us taking pitches but you can't be taking strike three especially when people are on base so that was something that we did poorly this weekend and I would like to see that turn around coming into Florida."
Every Tuesday, UK Athletics recognizes outstanding performances for our student-athletes. These are the honorees for the week ending Sunday, Feb. 24:
Men's basketball: Willie Cauley-Stein
Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein had a breakout week in helping lead UK to a pair of crucial victories this week. Cauley-Stein averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. His 19 rebounds for the week, .647 field goal percentage, blocks and steals were all team highs. Cauley-Stein began the week by pouring in a career-high 20 points to couple with a team-high seven rebounds and three blocks. He made 8-of-10 field goals in the win over Vanderbilt. In an overtime thriller of a victory over Missouri, Cauley-Stein played in a career-high 35 minutes. The first-year player altered the game defensively with a career-high seven blocked shots. His 12 rebounds was a career-high tying, and it marked only the third game in his career with double-figure rebounding. He added seven points to the winning cause in addition to another steal.
Baseball: Jerad Grundy
Senior southpaw Jerad Grundy continued his dominating start to 2013 with a win over Elon in a pitching duel with 2012 Cape Cod League All-Star Dylan Clark ... Grundy worked seven innings in the win, allowing only three hits and one run, walking two and striking out three ... Elon hit .136 against the Johnsburg, Ill., native with Grundy only facing three hitters over the minimum ... Grundy opened the first 12.1 innings of the year without allowing an earned run, before the Phoenix got a solo homer in the seventh inning ... On the year, Grundy has a 2-0 mark and a 0.69 ERA, tossing 13 innings, allowing seven hits and three walks, striking out 12, with foes hitting .152.
Softball: Griffin Joiner
Griffin Joiner continued her hot bat, earning a hit in every game to move her season-long hitting streak to five games - just one off her career best. Joiner hit .583 (7-for-12) for the weekend, while slugging at a 1.250 clip, and posting two or more RBI in every game. Her three hits against Howard tied a career high, while her three RBI against Howard and USC Upstate also tied a career high. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., blasted two homers on the weekend, including a go-ahead bomb in UK's thrilling 11-inning win against USC Upstate. Joiner leads the team with three roundtrippers, while sitting tied for first with four doubles and second on the team with 12 RBI.
Baseball: Max Kuhn
Sophomore infielder Max Kuhn continued his blistering pace to open the 2013 season, leading UK in hitting during a challenging three games at the Caravelle Resort Invitational ... Kuhn hit .385 (5-for-13) with a double and two RBI during the week, including a career-best three-hit game vs. Kansas State on Thursday ... On the year, Kuhn is hitting .320 (8-for-25) with two doubles and a triple, adding seven RBI and a 5-3 walk-strikeout ratio.
Women's basketball: A'dia Mathies
Senior guard A'dia Mathies led UK in scoring on the week, averaging 16.5 points per contest, along with 4.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals.
Despite playing just five minutes in the first half due to two early fouls, Mathies scored a team-high 13 points in the second half to help lead the Wildcats over No. 10/13 Texas A&M 70-66.
The win snapped A&M's 12-game home winning streak and gave UK its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season, including second win over a top-10 team on the road.
Scored 17 of 20 points in the second half at LSU, marking her sixth 20-plus point outing and moving her to No. 2 on UK's all-time scoring list.
Also grabbed six rebounds and equaled a team-high with three assists.
Has reached double figures in 25-of-27 games this season, including 18 in a row.
With four 3-pointers on the week, is tied for ninth on UK's single season 3-pointers made list with 55.
Ranks in the top 10 on 13 UK career lists, including No. 2 in scoring (1,863), No. 3 in steals (297) and No. 5 in field goals made (656) and 3-pointers made (159).
Only player in UK history to accumulate over 1,800 points, 500 rebounds, 300 assists and 250 steals in her career.
Overall, leads the team in scoring (15.9 ppg), 3-pointers made (55) and is second in assists per game (2.4) this season.
Averaging a team-high 18.2 points per game in SEC play and is tied for the team-high with 1.6 steals per contest.
Men's basketball: Julius Mays
Senior Julius Mays was sensational in helping lead UK to a pair of critical victories this week. The senior logged 16.5 points for the week to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists. In the opener for the week, Mays logged nine points and a team-high six assists. He added six rebounds and a steal. He was magnificent in the win over Missouri playing in a career-high 44 minutes. He logged a season-high 24 points while going .500 from the field including 4-of-8 from behind the arc. He added six more rebounds and dished out three assists. Furthermore, he was 8-of-9 from the free throw line including a perfect 6-fo-6 in overtime. Mays has connected on a least one 3-pointer in 16-straight games and has made multiple 3s in seven-straight. UK is 5-0 when he pulls down six or more rebounds, which he achieved in both outings this week.
Softball: Maisie Steed
Produced for Kentucky in limited action, hitting .600 (3-for-5) for the weekend with three RBI, including a double, homer and stolen base. Steed's homer was the second of the season, ranking her tied for second on the team. The freshman walked three times against USC Upstate, coming home to score once. Steed played solid defense all weekend, not committing an error even though she played third base, first base and both corner outfield positions.
Men's basketball - Kentucky captured a pair of critical home victories this week including an overtime thriller against Missouri. - Senior Julius Mays poured in a team-high 24 points in the win over Missouri on Saturday. He launched four 3-pointers and has now connected on at least one shot from long range in 16 straight games. - Freshman Willie Cauley-Stein notched a career-high 20 points to push UK past Vanderbilt earlier in the week. He followed that performance with a career-high tying 12 rebounds against Missouri to go along with a career-best seven blocked shots. - Alex Poythress scored 21 points, while Archie Goodwin notched 18 - all coming after the half in the win over Missouri.
Women's basketball - Kentucky split road games last week, defeating No. 10/13 Texas A&M 70-66 in College Station on ESPN2's Big Monday before falling at LSU on Sunday in Baton Rouge 77-72. - Against the Aggies, junior center DeNesha Stallworth flirted with a triple-double as she charted 12 points, 12 rebounds and a school-record seven blocks. . - Mathies netted a team-high 20 points at LSU, passing former Wildcat great Victoria Dunlap as UK's No. 2 all-time leading scorer with 1,863 career points.
Gymnastics - Kentucky recorded its best score of the year at Florida on Friday. The Wildcats finished with a total score of 196.075, dropping the meet to the Gators' score of 196.975. - UK's score was good for the sixth best in program history. - The Wildcats used season-high event scores on vault and beam to reach 196 for the first time this season. - Audrey Harrison also notched her sixth all-around title of the season and fourth in a row, scoring a 39.225.
Rifle - The Kentucky rifle team finished second at the Great America Rifle Conference over the weekend, shooting a 4690 over the course of the weekend. - Freshman Connor Davis won the GARC individual air rifle title, shooting a 596 before winning with a 105 in the Final. - Senior Henri Junghanel placed second overall individually with an aggregate score of 1179.
Softball - The UK softball team continued its winning ways over the weekend with a 3-0 record, taking down Georgetown, Howard and USC Upstate. - Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner led the Wildcats offensively with a .583 (7-for-12) average with two doubles, two homers, eight RBI and four runs scored. - Pitchers Ellen Weaver, Katie Henderson and Kelsey Nunley all recorded wins, while Weaver going five strong innings, allowing only one hit and no runs against Georgetown and Henderson allowing only one hit over five innings against Howard. Nunley threw the final nine innings against Upstate to get the win.
Baseball - No. 8 Kentucky continued its season-opening six-game road trip with the Caravelle Resort Invitational, hosted by Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach. S.C., picking up wins over CCU and Elon and suffering its first loss of the year to Kansas State in the opener on Thursday. - UK finished the weekend with a ninth-inning win at Coastal Carolina, 2-2. - UK has hit .314 as a team through six games, slugging .435 and reaching base at a .311 clip. UK has stolen 12 bases and on the mound, owns a 3.57 ERA, with 16 walks and 42 strikeouts in 53 innings.
Track and field - The women's track and field team finished seventh in the SEC Indoor Championship team standings with 34 points, and the men finished 10th with 30. - Cally Macumber led all Wildcats with 15 points earned throughout the meet. Matt Hillenbrand led the men with 11.25. Macumber won the women's 3,000 meters SEC championship. - Hillenbrand won the SEC mile championship with a time of 4:01.55. Hillenbrand's time was a new personal best, and the seventh-fastest in school history. The junior became the first Kentucky athlete to win the SEC men's mile since David Freeman took home the title in 2004.
Men's tennis - The No. 6 men's tennis team traveled to Birmingham, Ala., this weekend and collected two wins in a doubleheader with Samford University and Jacksonville State, both by a score of 5-1, to move to 12-2 on the season. - No. 90 Anthony Rossi picked up his 93rd and 94th career wins in a UK uniform on Sunday with wins in both matches for the Wildcats. - Also picking up wins in both ends of the doubleheader for the Wildcats were Beck Pennington, Kevin Lai and Juan Pablo Murra.
Women's tennis - The Kentucky women's tennis team defeated the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks 5-2. - Freshman Nadia Ravita improved to 7-1 in the No. 1 singles slot after defeating Christiana Raymond 6-1, 6-2. - Senior Jessica Stiles and sophomore Stephanie Fox won their singles matches in straight sets, with Stiles winning 6-4, 6-3 and Fox taking the No. 6 singles point 6-3, 6-1. - The Wildcats moved into the rankings for the first time this season, landing in the No. 63 spot.
Men's golf - The Kentucky men's golf team opened up its 2013 spring season, placing 10th out of 16 teams in the Mobile Bay Intercollegiate. UK finished 37-over-par with a final score of 901. - Senior Chase Parker was the low golfer of the week for the Wildcats, finishing tied for 16th overall at 4-over-par. - Junior transfer Ben Stow made his Kentucky debut, placing tied for 27th at 6-over-par.
Swimming and diving - The UK men's and women's swimming and diving teams competed in the 2013 Southeastern Conference Swimming and Diving Championships last week with both the men (368.5) and the women (452.5) finishing in ninth place. - Junior diver Greg Ferrucci earned two second place finishes on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard events and earned an eighth place on the platform. He broke the program record on the platform in the preliminaries with a 435.5. - Junior swimmer Lucas Gerotto broke multiple program records at the Championships including the 200-IM (1:47.20) and the 100-backstroke (47.29).
Thursday, Feb. 28 Women's basketball at Ole Miss - 8:00 p.m.
Friday, March 1 Softball vs. Illinois - 11:30 a.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Women's tennis at Arkansas - 1:00 p.m. Men's tennis hosts Arkansas - 1:00 p.m. Softball vs. USF - 2:00 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Baseball hosts Akron - 4:00 p.m. Track and field at NCAA Qualifying (South Bend, Ind./Fayetteville, Ark.)
Saturday, March 2 Baseball hosts Akron - Noon Softball vs. Loyola Marymount - 12:15 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Softball vs. Central Michigan - 2:45 p.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Baseball hosts Akron - 3:00 p.m. Men's basketball at Arkansas - 4:00 p.m. Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Knoxville, Tenn./Athens, Ga.) Track and field at Last Chance Qualifier (Fayetteville, Ark.)
Sunday, March 3 Softball vs. Western Michigan - 9:00 a.m. (Tampa, Fla.) Men's tennis hosts LSU - 1:00 p.m. Women's tennis at LSU - 1:00 p.m. Gymnastics at Ball State - 1:00 p.m. Baseball hosts Akron - 1:00 p.m. Women's basketball hosts Tennessee - 3:30 p.m. Men's golf at USF Invitational (Tampa, Fla.) Swimming and diving at Last Chance Meet (Knoxville, Tenn./ Athens, Ga.)