No. 22 Softball Defeats UC Riverside, Falls to No. 1 Oklahoma
Feb. 16, 2013
SAN DIEGO – The 22nd-ranked University of Kentucky softball team concluded play in the 23rd Campbell/Cartier Classic on Saturday by defeating UC Riverside 11-3 in the first game of a doubleheader before falling to No. 1 Oklahoma 11-0 in the final game of the day at the SDSU Softball Stadium in San Diego.
Kentucky (8-3) ends a 10-day west coast trip with a solid overall record after playing some of the best teams in the nation. During the trip, the Wildcats defeated three ranked teams in then-No. 3 California, No. 16 Washington and No. 20 Stanford. The wins increased head coach Rachel Lawson’s win total against ranked foes to 34.
The Wildcats also posted wins against two teams that were receiving votes on the trip, taking down Oregon State and San Diego State. UK’s other wins came against Western Michigan, Cal Poly and UC Riverside. UK’s losses are to No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 3 Arizona State and unranked Portland State. Before the loss to highly ranked Oklahoma, UK was on a five-game winning streak – the longest of the season.
Junior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess led the Wildcats in batting average on the weekend, posting a .500 mark (8-for-16) with one double, two homers and five RBI. Sophomore catcher Griffin Joiner also had a good offensive showing, hitting .455 (5-for-11) with two doubles, a triple and two RBI, while senior outfielder Alice O’Brien had two hits and four RBI. Cumbess leads the team in average overall this season with a .429 (15-for-35) mark, including a team-high 10 RBI.
In the circle, true freshman hurler Kelsey Nunley continued her strong start to the season, posting a 3-0 record with a 2.21 ERA and 13 strikeouts. Overall, Nunley has a 2.50 ERA in eight appearances, throwing 36.1 innings with a team-high 32 strikeouts. Cumbess started two games over the weekend, posting a 1.40 ERA with a 1-0 record. Cumbess’ overall ERA of 2.04 leads the team.
Nunley’s numbers are even more impressive in her four starts this season, posting a 4-0 record in those games and a 6-0 record overall. In her four starts, Nunley has thrown 25 innings, allowing only three runs - two earned - while striking out 27 and walking seven.
Oklahoma jumped on the Wildcats early in UK’s second game of the day, getting five runs in the first two innings. That was all OU pitcher Keilani Ricketts, who was named national player of the year by multiple organizations last week, needed, going four shut-out innings allowing only four hits and striking out three. OU’s biggest hit came in the five-run fifth when catcher Jessica Shults hit a grand slam. Shults ended the game 2-for-4 with 5 RBI.
Kentucky started the day with an 11-3 win over UC Riverside to increase its winning streak to five games, a season long. Nunley picked up her sixth win of the season after Cumbess started in the circle, going three innings, allowing three runs – two earned – while striking out six. When Cumbess left the game, the score was tied 3-3 before UK took a lead for good in the fourth inning setting up Nunley to throw three scoreless innings for the victory. Nunley only allowed one hit with two strikeouts.
UK was strong at the plate against UCR, getting an impressive performance from Joiner, who ended the game 2-for-2 with a double, triple and two RBI, marking the first time a UK player has earned two extra-base hits in one game since Ginny Carroll last May vs. LSU. The native of Hopkinsville, Ky., becomes the first player on the team this season to record a double, triple and a home run. Joining Joiner with a multi-hit game was senior Kara Dill, who went 3-for-5. O’Brien had two RBI, while Cumbess went 1-for-2 with two RBI. UK had base runners in almost every inning, drawing 12 walks.
UC Riverside got on the board first in the game after two Kentucky errors. Kayla White started the inning with an out before Ariel Shore hit a fly ball to center that was dropped by UK’s Sylver Samuel, allowing Shore to reach second. Marissa Escalante then hit a roller to first that went under the glove of Maisie Steed for UK’s second error, allowing Shore to score and give UCR a 1-0 lead.
UK would respond in the top of the third inning after a leadoff single by Dill and a double to right field by Joiner to score Dill. Joiner advanced to third on the throw and later came home to score when O’Brien hit a sacrifice fly. Cumbess then walked and was pinch ran for by freshman Darington Richardson, who stole second base and later advanced to third when Krystal Smith reached on a fielder’s choice. Smith then stole second base, drawing a throw from the catcher that was mishandled by the second baseman, allowing Richardson to score and give UK a 3-1 lead.
The Wildcats didn’t have the lead long as Shore singled and Escalante drilled a homer to center field to tie the game 3-3 in the bottom of the third.
That was all UCR would score as UK would take the lead for good in the fourth inning after Dill reached on a fielder’s choice and later stole second. Joiner then come through again with the game-winning RBI, hammering a triple to right field past the outstretched glove of the right fielder, scoring Dill and giving UK the 4-3 lead.
UK sealed the victory with a seven-run sixth inning on three hits, two errors and five walks. The big hit in the inning was a two-RBI single by Cumbess with the bases loaded and a RBI single by pinch hitter Nikki Sagermann. Pinch hitter Ellen Weaver also hit a sacrifice fly in the inning, while the other runs scored via bases-loaded walks or an error.
Kentucky will be in action again next Friday when it travels to Spartanburg, S.C., for the Coke Zero Spartan Classic, hosted by USC Upstate. The Wildcats will play four games in three days at the event, starting with a 2 p.m. ET contest against Presbyterian on Friday. UK will have a doubleheader Saturday, facing Georgetown at Noon ET and USC Upstate at 2 p.m. ET. The tournament concludes Sunday with UK playing Howard at 10 a.m. ET.
Kentucky will play host to the SEC Tournament this season for the first time in school history. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will be May 8-11 in Lexington. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU. Ticket information for the tournament will be released next week on UKathletics.com
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