Nunley's Gem, Stokes' Double Gives Softball Win Over No. 2 OU
Feb. 7, 2014
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley threw an impressive 10 innings of work, striking out eight batters and allowing four runs, while fellow sophomore Christian Stokes hit the game-winning double in the final frame after seniors Ginny Carroll and Emily Jolly, and sophomore Maisie Steed belted homers earlier in the game, giving the No. 12 University of Kentucky softball team a 5-4 victory over No. 2 Oklahoma on Friday at Anderson Family Field in Fullerton, Calif.
The win for Kentucky (4-0) over No. 2 Oklahoma ties the highest-ranked opponent Kentucky has ever defeated. The Wildcats also defeated No. 2 Florida in 2012 and No. 2 Michigan in 2011. The loss for Oklahoma (0-1) is only its fifth since the start of the 2013 season as the defending NCAA National Champions went 57-4 last season. Kentucky's 4-0 start is its best ever in 18 years of softball. UK tied the previous best start last year by going 3-0.
Nunley, who moves to 2-0 on the year, was brilliant in the game for the Wildcats, throwing a career-high 10 innings in the win. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., allowed four runs - all earned - on seven hits with eight strikeouts. The solid outing comes on the heels of Nunley's first career no-hitter on Thursday vs. Santa Clara when the sophomore sensation recorded a career-best 11 strikeouts.
"I just kept competing and kept fighting and I knew my team had my back, so I just wanted to give it all I had," Nunley said. "We are pretty happy, but we also know we have to come out strong every day. This is a big win, though."
After giving up two runs in the first inning and one in the third inning, Nunley held the high-powered Sooners' offense scoreless until the seventh inning when Oklahoma took a 4-2 lead on a solo home run from Georgia Casey. The Kentucky offense answered, however, with Carroll leading off the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run and Jolly tying the game with UK down to its final out with a solo home run.
Nunley silenced the Oklahoma bats from there, throwing three scoreless innings to close the game - with international tiebreaker rules in place - setting the scene for UK's dramatic win in the bottom of the 10th inning. Sophomore Sylver Samuel started the inning on second base due to international tiebreaker rules with Jolly popping out to start the inning. With one out, Stokes lined a ball off third base that went into leftfield to score Samuel and give UK the historic win.
"I went into the at bat knowing I had to attack something low and she pitched me a drop ball the previous at bat and I got a hit with it so I went into the at bat knowing I needed to attack something low," Stokes said.
Offensively, Kentucky belted three home runs in the game, including Carroll and Jolly's clutch bombs in the seventh and Steed's solo shot in the second inning. Stokes and Carroll both had multi-hit games for Kentucky with Stokes going 2-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and Carroll going 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner kept her hitting streak to start the season going with a 1-for-4 game, while sophomore Nikki Sagermann and senior Krystal Smith each had a hit with Smith adding an RBI.
Oklahoma started the scoring in game two with a two-run homer to leftfield by Shelby Pendley in the top of the first. After Lauren Chamberlain started the game with a leadoff single, Nunley got a pop out for the first out of the inning before Pendley hit an opposite-field homer to leftfield. Nunley got back-to-back groundouts to end the inning with OU up 2-0.
Kentucky cut the OU lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second inning with a solo home run from Steed. After a pop up and a lineout started the inning, Steed stepped in and drilled a laser over the wall in leftfield to make it 2-1 OU.
The Sooners regained their two-run lead in the top of the third with a leadoff home run by Chamberlain to leftfield before UK rallied in the fourth to cut the lead back to one. Sagermann and Carroll started the rally with back-to-back singles before Steed grounded into a fielder's choice at second base to put runners on the corner with two outs. Pinch hitter Krystal Smith then hammered a ball to the wall in leftfield, scoring Sagermann before Steed was thrown out at the plate trying to tie the game.
OU grabbed its two-run lead back in the seventh inning on a two-out solo homer from Casey to leftfield, setting up UK's dramatic finish with Carroll and Jolly homering in the bottom of the seventh inning to tie the game before Stokes came through in the 10th with the game-winning hit.
Kentucky, which started the day with a 7-1 win over Loyola Marymount, concludes its West Coast swing Saturday in Long Beach with a Noon ET game vs. George Washington. Live stats from the game will be available online at UKathletics.com.
Freshman pitcher Meagan Prince shined in the circle for Kentucky against Loyola Marymount, throwing seven innings, allowing one earned run on three hits with seven strikeouts. The native of Martin, Tenn., faced the minimum through three innings before allowing her first hit with one out in the fourth inning to capture her first career victory.
The Kentucky offense was strong in the game scoring seven runs on 13 hits. Joiner led the way for Kentucky with a 4-for-4 game, including a grand slam to earn five RBI. The grand slam was the first for UK since Stokes' grand slam vs. North Carolina last season. It was the first grand slam of Joiner's career.
Sophomore infielder Ansley Smith also went 4-for-4 in the game with two runs scored and an RBI, while sophomore outfielder Darington Richardson went 2-for-3 with her first career triple. Senior Emily Gaines delivered a pinch-hit RBI single in the game, while Stokes and Samuel each recorded hits.
The scoring started for Kentucky in the first inning with Ansley Smith doubling to right centerfield before Joiner singled up the middle to score Ansley Smith and put UK up 1-0.
The Wildcats blew the game open in the fourth inning with five runs on five hits. Jolly started the inning by reaching on an error before Richardson singled to second base. After a strikeout for the first out, Stokes hit an infield single to load the bases for Ansley Smith, who singled to centerfield to score a run and keep the bases loaded for Joiner, who hammered a grand slam over the wall in centerfield to put UK up 6-0.
Loyola Marymount (0-1) scored its lone run with a leadoff home run by Meghan Harman in the fifth inning before Kentucky grabbed its six-run lead back with the pinch-hit RBI single by Gaines after Richardson had tripled to rightfield.
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