Sagermann Set to Lead Wildcat Offense
While there is never an exact formula for winning in sports, the Kentucky softball team had one major trend last season. The Wildcats went 32-26 overall, but were 19-4 in games when they scored at least five runs. When they scored four runs or less, Kentucky was 13-22.
The good news for the 2016 Cats is that nearly all significant offensive contributors return. Only departed catcher Griffin Joiner will not be back with the team this season.
If there’s one player Kentucky will be counting on to produce offensively, it’s third baseman Nikki Sagermann. As a sophomore in 2014, Sagermann was a huge offensive weapon for the Wildcats, belting 13 homers and knocking in 49 runs. In 2015, Sagermann hit fewer homers (eight), but did increase her batting average to .303.
Sagermann moved from the middle of the lineup to the leadoff spot last season. In doing so, she saw her chances to knock runs in drop significantly. Sagermann saw her RBI total fall from 49 in 2014 to just 23 last season.
Sagermann hopes to return to the middle of the lineup this season.
“I enjoy (batting) leadoff,” she said. “But I’d rather be more in the middle of the lineup because I do enjoy batting the runners in and being in pressure situations.”
If she can come close to the numbers she has posted in the past, Sagermann is likely to see her name appear in the UK record book on numerous occasions. She needs just five RBIs this year to break into Kentucky’s career Top 10 in that category. She’s already among the school’s career leaders in career slugging percentage (.523). Sagermann also ranks sixth in both career walks (87) and career home runs (28).
Kentucky head coach Rachel Lawson knows that Sagermann’s production will be important to this season’s team.
“Nikki Sagermann is our returning offensive leader in about every category,” Lawson said of her senior. “I think it’s important that she continues with her production.”
Sagermann hopes to do just that as the Wildcats get their season underway on Friday by facing Notre Dame in Tempe, Ariz. That game is part of the Kajikawa Classic, which runs from Feb. 12-15.
Sagermann is one of the leaders of this Wildcat team, and as a senior, she can mentor many of Kentucky’s young players. When asked what advice she would give the Wildcat freshmen, Sagermann would have them be patient.
“It’s a process, it’s a long process,” she said of the season. “You will have your slumps, but you will also bust out of your slumps.”
Sagermann and the Wildcats hope to avoid many of those slumps this season.