Nunley Leads Wildcats to Series Sweep of Mississippi State
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Senior Kelsey Nunley did a little bit of everything to lead the 12th-ranked Kentucky softball team to a 4-0 win over Mississippi State on Sunday to preserve a sweep of the visiting Bulldogs. Nunley was responsible for the game-clinching RBI and tossed a seven-inning shutout in the final regular-season game of the season.
With today’s victory, the Wildcats have secured the No. 2 seed in this week’s upcoming Southeastern Conference tournament. It is the best finish in program history. Kentucky will take on the winner of (7) LSU and (10) Texas A&M on Thursday at 2:30 p.m. ET in Starkville, Miss. The game will be shown live on the SEC Network with Adam Amin and Amanda Scarbrough on the call.
Kentucky finishes the 2016 regular season with a 43-11 overall record and a 17-7 mark in league play. Mississippi State falls to 25-30 overall and 3-21 against SEC foes. Nunley’s victory today improves her to 20-5 overall on the season. She is the first pitcher in program history to accumulate three 20-win seasons in a career.
Nunley was once again sensational in the circle for the Wildcats. She tossed her 12th complete game of the season and earned her seventh shutout of the year. She yielded five hits, while striking out eight.
Kentucky did all of its damage in the fourth inning. Freshman Abbey Cheek got things started with a one-out walk and was followed by back-to-back singles from Brooklyn Hinz and Jenny Schaper. Senior Christian Stokes’ fielder’s choice plated Cheek for the winning run, setting the stage for Nunley. UK’s remarkable senior laced a ball through the right side that plated two scores to preserve the win. The Wildcats added an insurance run thanks to an error by the Bulldogs for the final 4-0 score.
Kentucky’s shutout in today’s game marks the 18th of the season, setting a new single-season program record. The Wildcats’ pitching staff has allowed two or fewer runs in 38 of their 54 games this season. Kentucky is 37-1 in games in which it has allowed two or fewer runs.
Second – Today’s win secured second place in the league standings for the Wildcats. UK was picked eighth by the SEC coaches prior to the start of the season. Behind a school-record 17 conference victories and six series wins the Wildcats ascended the standings into second place which is the highest finish in program history.
Nunley’s two-RBI single is the play of the day. With the Wildcats loading the bases and having just one out on the scoreboard, UK’s senior pitcher delivered for the second time this series offensively. She also had the game-tying RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings on Friday night.
Cheek is the player of the game after going 1-for-1 at the dish and scoring what became the game-winning tally. Her day also included a walk to ignite the rally in the bottom of the sixth. Cheek also was a stalwart at third base with four assists on the afternoon to help keep the Bulldogs’ offense at bay.
Kentucky utilized a big sixth inning to preserve the victory. Cheek got things started with a walk. Hinz singled through the left side and Schaper loaded the bases with a bloop infield single. Stokes sent a sharp chopper to third base and MSU attempted to get Cheek at home, but the throw was not in time. With the bases still juiced, Nunley drilled a ball to second base that nicked the glove of the fielder to ricochet into shallow right field to plate two scores. Kentucky scored its final run after benefiting from a Mississippi State error. FINAL – No. 12 Kentucky 4, Mississippi State 0.
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