Nunley's 7 Hitless IP, Joiner's Clutch HR Help Softball Sweep DH
LEXINGTON, Ky. - University of Kentucky junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley picked up two wins in relief behind a combined seven hitless innings, while senior catcher Griffin Joiner hit a clutch two-run home run in the fifth inning of game two, powering No. 12 Kentucky to a doubleheader sweep over Ohio on Saturday at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky (17-5) started the day with a 7-2 victory before claiming a 6-4 come-from-behind win in game two. The doubleheader was originally scheduled to start at 1 p.m. ET Saturday but heavy rain in the Lexington area pushed the start time back two hours. After an amazing job by the UK sports turf team, the two teams were able to play both games in near perfect field conditions.
The three-game, non-conference series will conclude Sunday with a 1 p.m. ET first pitch at John Cropp Stadium. The game can be seen live on the SEC Network+ with Dick Gabriel and former Purdue head coach, Louisville associate head coach and Michigan assistant coach Carol Bruggeman calling the action. Live stats will also be available on UKathletics.com.
Single-game tickets are available and are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (ages 65 or older) and youth (ages 6-18), while children ages five and under will be admitted free of charge. Tickets are available by calling the UK Ticket Office at 1-800-928-2287, in person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or online at www.ukathletics.com/tickets. Tickets will be sold - cash only - on gamedays at the ticket booths outside John Cropp Stadium with gates opening one hour prior to first pitch.
Nunley was the story in the circle for Kentucky in both games, throwing a combined seven shutout and hitless innings. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., came in to pitch in the third inning in game one, throwing 4.2 perfect innings with five strikeouts in just 33 pitches. In game two, Nunley entered in the top of the fifth inning with the bases loaded and Kentucky trailing by four runs. The junior got a groundout to end the threat in the fifth and slammed the door shut the final two innings with two strikeouts to pick up her second win of the day and move to 8-2 on the season with a 1.85 ERA.
The UK bats came to life after Nunley got the Wildcats out of the bases-loaded jam in the fifth as senior outfielder Kara Howard and junior infielder Ansley Smith each drew walks to start the inning. After a fielder's choice, strikeout and hit-by-pitch, the bases were loaded for sophomore Breanne Ray, who singled up the middle to score two runs with the throw home getting away from the Ohio catcher, allowing another runner to score and cut the Bobcats' lead to 4-3. Senior catcher Griffin Joiner put the Wildcats up for good a few pitches later, hitting a two-run home run just fair down the rightfield line to give UK a 5-4 lead and seal the doubleheader sweep.
Sophomore pitcher Shannon Smith started in the circle in game one, tossing 2.1 innings and allowing two runs - both earned - on six hits with six strikeouts. Fellow sophomore Meagan Prince started for UK in game two, throwing 3.1 innings with four earned runs allowed on five hits and four strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Erin Rethlake relieved Prince in the fourth inning with the bases loaded, allowing a single up the middle to score two runs - both charged to Prince. Rethlake tossed 1.1 total innings in the game before Nunley replaced her in the fifth with the bases loaded.
Offensively, junior infielder Christian Stokes went 4-for-8 with a triple, homer, two RBI and two runs scored. Stokes was 3-for-4 in game one, needing a double to complete the cycle. Junior Maisie Steed was 2-for-5 on the day with her second home run of the season and four RBI, while Joiner had three hits and four RBI, including her team-high tying fifth home run of the season. Ray had two RBI on the day, while juniors Nikki Sagermann and Kelsey Nunley, and freshman Rachael Metzger each had doubles.
Ohio (5-14) started game one with Lauren McClary in the circle with the senior going 4.1 innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits with four strikeouts and five walks. Freshman Sydney Compston came into the game in the sixth inning and allowed one hit and one run with one strikeout. In game two, Ohio got a complete game from sophomore Leanna Bachman, who went six innings, allowing six runs - five earned - on seven hits with three strikeouts.
Offensively, senior Kaylin Clarke had three hits combined with a home run and RBI, while senior Adrienne Gebele also had three hits and added three RBI. Junior Sloan Walker had three hits and a run scored, while senior Raven King had two hits and a RBI.
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Kentucky - No. 14 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25; No. 12 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Saturday, March 13
Kentucky def. Ohio 7-2
Kentucky def. Ohio 6-4
Sunday, March 14
Ohio at Kentucky - 1 p.m. ET - Live Stats - SEC Network+