Homers Power No. 5 Softball to Saturday Split vs. IUPUI, KSU
KENNESAW, Ga. – University of Kentucky junior infielder Nikki Sagermann hit two home runs on the day with five runs batted in, while senior catcher Griffin Joiner and junior infielders Ansley Smith and Christian Stokes also blasted roundtrippers, powering the No. 5 Wildcats to a Saturday split against IUPUI and host Kennesaw State.
Kentucky (6-2) started the day with a 9-4 come-from-behind win over IUPUI, before falling in a back-and-forth battle with KSU in the second game. The games completed the 2015 Phyllis Rafter Memorial Invitational, which was hosted by KSU at Bailey Park. The event was originally schedule for bracket games on Sunday before weather concerns canceled Sunday’s schedule.
The Wildcats used late offense against IUPUI and quality pitching from sophomore Meagan Prince to claim the first win. Stokes was the leader offensively, going 3-for-4 with three RBI and her first home run of the season. Junior outfielder Sylver Samuel went 2-for-3 with a run scored, while junior Maisie Steed was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Joiner launched her second home run of the season in the game with two RBI, while Sagermann and sophomore Breanne Ray also added RBI.
Sophomore Shannon Smith started in the circle and tossed four innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk. She earned the win in the game with Kentucky taking the lead in the bottom of the fourth, paving the way for Prince to come in and get the save with three scoreless innings with only one hit allowed. The win was the first of the season for Shannon Smith, while it was also Prince’s first save of the year.
The victory over IUPUI was the 250th of eighth-year head coach Rachel Lawson’s career. Although early into her eighth season with the program, Lawson is already the winningest head coach in program history and has more wins against Southeastern Conference opponents than the program’s previous two coaches combined.
The Kentucky offense started slow against the Owls, but posted eight runs in the final three innings and held a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the seventh. Three Wildcats had multi-hit games against KSU with Samuel going 2-for-4 with two runs scored, while Sagermann hit two two-run homers to finish the game 2-for-4 with four RBI. Freshman Brooklin Hinz went 2-for-4 in the game, while Ansley Smith hit a two-run home run – her first of the season – and senior Kara Howard recorded and RBI.
Prince started against KSU, allowing three runs in the first inning before being relieved by junior Kelsey Nunley, who tossed the following four innings with one run allowed on five hits and one strikeout. Prince came back into the circle in the sixth inning and allowed five runs in her final 1.2 innings of work to pick up her second loss of the season.
Kentucky will return to action Thursday as it travels to Palm Springs, Calif., to play in the 2015 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Wildcats will play six games total over three days, starting with highly ranked Arizona and Long Beach State on Thursday. Complete details can be found at UKathletics.com.
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