Softball Splits with No. 3 OU, SDSU to Complete Nutter Classic
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The No. 9 University of Kentucky softball team completed play in the 2015 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on Saturday with a loss to No. 3 Oklahoma and victory over San Diego State, who is receiving votes in the national rankings. The games concluded a 5-1 weekend in one of the nation’s most prestigious early season tournaments.
Kentucky (11-3) started the day with a 7-3 loss to highly ranked Oklahoma, who won the 2013 Women’s College World Series and played in the WCWS last season. UK responded in its final game of the tournament, taking down San Diego State 5-2, who won the Mountain West Conference last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
The games completed play for UK in the event with the Wildcats posting a 5-1 record against some of the best competition in the nation. UK started the tournament with a victory over No. 10 Arizona, which marked Kentucky’s second victory this season over a top-10 team. The Wildcats also posted wins over LIU Brooklin, Long Beach State and Oregon State, who has received votes in the national rankings this season.
Sophomore pitcher Meagan Prince started for Kentucky against San Diego State, picking up her sixth win of the season after four strong innings. The native of Martin, Tenn., allowed two earned runs on five hits with one strikeout and one walk. She was relieved to start the fifth inning by junior Kelsey Nunley, who tossed the final three innings with only two hits allowed and no runs with five strikeouts. The save was Nunley’s first of the season and third of her career to rank fourth all-time in school history.
Offensively, senior catcher Griffin Joiner went 3-for-3 in the game with a run scored to extend her hitting streak to four games. True freshman Erin Rethlake came off the pinch to provide an insurance run in the sixth inning with an RBI single in her first collegiate at-bat. Junior infielders Christian Stokes and Maisie Steed each had RBI in the game, while junior Ansley Smith went 1-for-1 with her first career triple and run scored. Junior Sylver Samuel and sophomore Breanne Ray added singles in the game.
The Aztecs started Sydnee Cable in the circle, who went four innings with four runs allowed – two earned – on four hits with one strikeout. Eric Romero came on in relief and tossed the final two innings with one run allowed on four hits. Offensively, Cable recorded an RBI as did Samantha Camello.
Oklahoma posted six runs in the first two innings to take control of the game before the Wildcats settled in to score three runs in the sixth inning to make the final decision 7-3. Nunley started for Kentucky going two innings with six runs allowed – four earned – on five hits with four strikeouts. She was relieved to start the third inning by Rethlake, who went four innings with one run allowed on three hits with four strikeouts.
Offensively, Stokes got things started for Kentucky in the sixth inning with her second home run of the season over Oklahoma pitcher Kelsey Stevens, who went five innings allowing two runs – both earned – on one hit with four strikeouts. Joiner went 1-for-3 in the game with a run scored and a RBI, while Ray went 1-for-1 in the game.
The Sooners were paced offensively by a two-run homer by Paige Parker, who was 2-for-3 with two RBI in the game. Nicole Pendley went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Kady Self, Whitney Ellis and Kelsey Arnold each recorded hits.
Stokes led Kentucky offensively at the event, going 8-for-19 with seven runs scored, one double, one homer and seven RBI. Samuel and Joiner each hit .389 with Samuel stealing three bags and scoring five runs and Joiner hitting a double, homer and posting five RBI. Freshman Rachael Metzger hit the first home run of her career against LIU Brooklyn, while junior Nikki Sagermann had five RBI and a double over the weekend.
In the circle, Rethlake tossed six innings allowing one earned run on three hits with five strikeouts and a 1.17 ERA. Prince tossed 14 innings, going 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA and eight strikeouts, while Nunley threw 18.2 innings with a 4.12 ERA and 2-1 record with 19 strikeouts.
Rachel Lawson and Co. will head to Chattanooga, Tenn., next weekend to play in the three-day Frost Classic. The Wildcats will play five games in the event, squaring off against Tennessee Tech, Wright State, Purdue, Chattanooga and Belmont. Complete details on the event can be found next week at UKathletics.com.
The Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic is one of the largest and most competitive Division I softball tournaments outside of the NCAA and Southeastern Conference tournament. This year's event features 35 teams, including 18 that made last season's NCAA tournament and three of the eight Women's College World Series teams. The entire tournament is held at Big League Dreams Park across five fields. This is Kentucky’s first year to play in the event.
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