Nunley Throws Career High 12Ks in Return Home

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. – Senior pitcher Kelsey Nunley shined in the spotlight on Saturday night at Frost Stadium in her hometown return, earning the win over the Chattanooga Mocs after throwing a complete-game two hitter as Kentucky capped off a doubleheader sweep of Eastern Illinois and UTC.

Nunley continued the dominant Kentucky pitching of late, allowing just two hits and two runs in seven innings of work, and striking out 12 batters, a new career high. She walked four in the game, and threw 116 pitches with 81 recorded as strikes. 

Junior Shannon Smith set the bar high with her complete game one-hitter to begin the day against Eastern Illinois. The Wildcats run-ruled the Panthers 9-1 in six innings after exploding for three runs in each of the first two innings to put EIU in an early hole. Smith went the distance, allowing just one run on one hit – a lead-off home run to start the game in the first inning. She set a new career high with 11 strikeouts and only walked two batters. 

Freshman Katie Reed also had a stellar day, recording three hits and four RBI with a double. Reed now has collected a hit in all 15 games to start her career – and has tied Kara Dill’s school-record hit streak of 15 games that was set in 2014. 

UK with two wins today moves to 13-2 on the season, and will look to complete a 5-0 weekend in the Chattanooga Frost Classic on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET against the Evansville Purple Aces. The game will be played inside Frost Stadium. 

Game 1 – Eastern Illinois - Box Score (PDF)
Key Stat
11. Junior pitcher Shannon Smith recorded a new career high 11 strikeouts on Saturday afternoon, as she picked up her first win of the season against the Panthers.

Key Play
After a home run by EIU to lead off the game in the top of the first inning, and put UK on its heels, the Kentucky offense awoke, thanks to a two-RBI single by Maisie Steed, scoring Sylver Samuel and Abbey Cheek to put UK on top. 

Key Player
Katie Reed was the key player in the game, going 2-for-3 with a single and a double. Reed was the lead-off batter for the first time in her UK career on Saturday morning and also notched four more RBI to her season total. The St. Louis, Mo., native broke the game open in the second inning with another two-RBI hit to the fourth inning. 

Run Recap
In the first inning, Sylver Samuel got the UK rally going with a single to center to put a runner on first with one out. After Abbey Cheek was walked on four pitches, and Sagermann was walked – Steed rocketed a two-RBI single to the left side to give UK the 2-0 lead. A Brooklin Hinz single scored another run as Kentucky would score three in the opening inning. UK 3, EIU 1

Kentucky broke open the game in the second inning, as Breanne Ray led off the bottom of the second with a double down the rightfield line. Jenny Schaper was hit by a pitch to put runners and first and second with no outs. Reed then delivered with a two-RBI single to the left side to make 5-1. Kentucky would add another run on a Sylver Samuel SAC groundout to score Reed. UK 6, EIU 1

Back-to-back doubles by Reed and Samuel opened the fourth inning for Kentucky to put runners at second and third with no outs for Cheek. The freshman grounded out to the right side to score Reed, and Christian Stokes roped one to left field to score Samuel. UK 8, EIU 1

Ray came up big again in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading things off with a double down the rightfield line. Rachael Metzger came in to pinch hit for Schaper, and singled to center to score Ray and run rule the Panthers. FINAL – No. 17 Kentucky 9, Eastern Illinois 1

Game 2 – Chattanooga - Box Score (PDF)
Key Stat
12. Senior pitcher Kelsey Nunley recorded a new career high 12 strikeouts on Saturday night in her return home to Tennessee in front of a record crowd at Frost Stadium. Nunley continued the dominant Kentucky pitching of late, allowing just two hits and two runs in seven innings of work, and striking out 12 batters, a new career high. She walked four in the game, and threw 116 pitches with 81 recorded as strikes.

Key Play
Senior Nikki Sagermann belted a two-run home run to left field, her third of the season in the fourth inning to give Kentucky a lead it would not relinquish. Sagermann now has three homers on the season, and has driven in 12. 

Key Player
Kelsey Nunley was the key player in the game, striking out a career high 12 batters in her return home. 

Run Recap
Kentucky fell behind early, when Jordan Fortel homered to straightaway center in the top of the first. In what initially seemed like a pop to Samuel, the ball kept drifting back in the breeze and went out of the park to put UTC up 1-0. UTC 1, UK 0

Kentucky would take the lead in the top of the third with three runs in the frame. Christian Stokes led off the inning with a walk, and was sacrificed over by Rethlake to put a RISP with one out for Maisie Steed. Steed delivered with an RBI single back up the middle to score Stokes and tie the game. UK 1, UTC 1

After a lead-off stand-up triple by Cheek to lead off the top of the fourth, Sagermann launched a two-run homer over the wall in left to score Cheek and score the then-go-ahead run, and game-winning run. UK 3, UTC 1

Sylver Samuel would lead off the fifth inning with a single to the right side, before Reed singled to the left side to put runners on first and second with no outs. Sagermann walked to load the bases and a Breanne Ray SAC fly brought home the fourth UK run. An error on UTC would score Cheek and Sagermann on a grounder by Schaper to make it 6-1 Wildcats as the fifth inning came to a close. UK 6, UTC 1

In the top of the sixth, Chattanooga would score a run after a walk and a double put runners on second and third with two outs. A wild pitch by Nunley allowed a run to score. FINAL – No. 17 Kentucky 6, Chattanooga 2

For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.