Nunley, Prince Combine For Shutout to Sweep South Carolina
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind a shutout from the Kentucky pitching staff and early runs on the board for the third straight game in the series, the No. 15 Kentucky softball team capped off a sweep of the South Carolina Gamecocks on Sunday with a 4-0 to move to 3-0 in Southeastern Conference action on the season after a perfect weekend in Columbia to kick start league play.
Kelsey Nunley was once again spectacular in the circle, going six full innings, only allowing three hits, walking one and striking out five Gamecock batters. The Soddy Daisy, Tenn., native improved to 9-1 on the season and now boasts a 0.68 ERA in her 14 appearances. Nickie Blue was the starting pitcher for the second day in a row for the Gamecocks, as she falls to 7-4 on the year.
Junior pitcher Meagan Prince came on to get her first save of the season in the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second and no outs. Prince was able to get the secondary runner on a fielder’s choice, and then an unassisted double play by freshman Katie Reed ended the game, preserving the shutout for the UK pitching staff.
Over the weekend, the Kentucky pitching staff only allowed three runs with two on Friday and one yesterday. Between Nunley, Prince and Shannon Smith, who started the game on Friday, the UK pitching staff only allowed 12 hits, three runs, five walks and 12 strikeouts.
UK yet again scored in the top of the first inning, for the third game in the series to put UK ahead early in the game. Maisie Steed led off the inning with a double to the third base bag and was sacrificed over and ended up scoring on a two-out hit by Abbey Cheek for the early lead. Kentucky scored first in all three games of the series, outscoring the Gamecocks 10-0 in the first inning on the weekend.
The Wildcats sweep of South Carolina marked the first sweep of an SEC team since April 11-13 when UK swept Ole Miss.
Kentucky returns to the road on Wednesday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET in Huntington, W. Va., as the Wildcats are at Marshall.
Three. Kentucky only allowed three hits to the Gamecocks on Sunday afternoon. The only time that Nunley allowed back-to-back batters to reach base in an inning was in the top of the seventh as USC got a walk and a single before Prince came on for the save.
The key play in the game was a double play turned by the Kentucky defense harnessed by Katie Reed. With one out and UK up 4-0, USC had runners on the corner and Williams grounded to Reed at second, who tagged the runner going to second and threw out Williams at first to end the game.
Abbey Cheek was the key player in the game, going 2-for-2 in the game, and reaching safely in all four plate appearances in the game in front of her home crowd. Cheek singled to score the game-winning run with two outs in the top of the first. She also singled up the middle in the third inning to cap off her 2-for-2 day at the dish.
Maisie Steed led off the top of the first inning with a double to the bag at third that then bounced into foul territory, and allowed Steed to race into second. After a sacrifice bunt by Katie Reed to move Steed to third, Abbey Cheek stepped up with two outs and roped the first of her two base hits on the day into center to score Steed and put UK up 1-0. UK 1, USC 0
In the top of the fifth, UK doubled its lead on Abbey Cheek’s first run of the game. Cheek came around to score on a double to center field by Brooklin Hinz and put UK up by two. UK 2, USC 0
Kentucky would add two more in the top of the seventh, as Cheek again led off the inning with a walk. Hinz then came through with a single to the left side to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a SAC bunt by Erin Rethlake, UK put runners on second and third. Jenny Schaper stepped to the plate and hit a SAC fly to center, scoring Cheek from third, and on a muffed throw, Sarah Rainwater – who was running for Hinz – came around to score. FINAL – No. 15 Kentucky 4, South Carolina 0
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