Game 1 Homers, Game 2 Pitching Leads Softball to DH Sweep
LEXINGTON, Ky. - The No. 12 University of Kentucky softball team hit three home runs in game one, including a two-run shot by sophomore outfielder Breanne Ray, while sophomore pitcher Shannon Smith and junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley combined for a shutout in seven dominating innings in the circle in game two, leading the Wildcats to a doubleheader sweep at Murray State on Tuesday.
Kentucky (20-5) started the day with a 5-2 victory over the Racers before squeezing out a 1-0 triumph in the day's second game. The two victories were the sixth and seventh consecutive for Kentucky, marking the Wildcats longest winning streak of the season.
UK will have short time to celebrate the victories as the Wildcats play host to Indiana at 7 p.m. ET on Wednesday at John Cropp Stadium. The game will be televised nationally on the SEC Network with Mark Neely and Jenny Dalton-Hill calling the action. The UK-Indiana game will be available through WatchESPN on the SEC Network+. Live stats will be available online at UKathletics.com.
The Wildcats earned seven hits in the day's first game, including three home runs. Junior infielder Christian Stokes started the home run parade with a solo shot to leadoff the third inning - marking her team-best sixth home run of the season. Stokes finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored and a RBI, extending her hitting streak to a career-best five games. Stokes has three or more hits in three of her last five games.
Ray and junior utility player Maisie Steed hit the other two bombs for Kentucky with Ray connecting on a two-run home run to rightfield for her third homer of the season. Steed blasted a solo shot in the top of the seventh inning, giving her four home runs for the season. Steed has had a hot bat as of late, with a hit in 14 of her last 19 games, including a home run in four of her last seven games. Junior Nikki Sagermann and freshman Rachael Metzger each had hits in the game.
Sophomore Meagan Prince started in the circle and tossed five innings with two runs allowed - one earned - on three hits with five strikeouts. The native of Martin, Tenn., picked up the win to move to 8-3 on the season, while Nunley tossed the final two innings with two hits allowed and no runs to pick up her second save of the season.
In the second game, it was the pitching that was the story for Kentucky with Smith tossing four scoreless innings with only three hits allowed and six strikeouts. The native of Milford, Mass., received a no-decision in the game with Nunley getting the win with three strong innings in relief. Nunley allowed just one hit and had two strikeouts to extend her scoreless innings streak to 14 innings with 15 strikeouts. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., is 8-3 on the season with a 1.67 ERA.
Offensively, Kentucky could only come up with two hits in the day's second game with junior outfielder Sylver Samuel reaching on a slap single, while Metzger recorded an RBI single in the sixth inning to give Kentucky a 1-0 lead it wouldn't relinquish. The Wildcats drew eight walks in the game off MSU pitcher Mason Robinson, who threw a complete game with seven strikeouts.
The doubleheader at MSU and single-game vs. Indiana is part of a current stretch where Kentucky will play nine games in nine days. That stretch started last weekend when Kentucky swept a three-game series with Ohio - the 2014 Mid-American Conference Tournament Champions. UK will conclude the grueling stretch with a three-game series at No. 9/11 Auburn, starting Friday at 7 p.m. ET.
Indiana currently holds a 9-19 record, including a 4-1 mark at home, 0-2 record on the road and 5-16 mark in neutral-site games. The Hoosiers have played three games against ranked foes this season, sitting 0-3 in those games. IU was riding a five-game winning streak after winning its first five games of the Hoosier Classic before a loss Monday to North Dakota State 9-5 in the tournament finale.
Sophomore utility player Erin Lehman leads the team with a .438 average, adding six doubles, one triple and eight RBI, while freshman outfielder Rebecca Blitz is hitting .356 with on triple, six RBI and nine stolen bases. Junior infielder Kelsey Dotson has six homers, while senior outfielder Shannon Cawley has seven long balls with Dotson adding 21 RBI and Cawley 22. Senior pitcher Lora Olsen leads the team with a 6-12 record and 4.70 ERA in 105.2 innings pitched with 66 strikeouts. Senior pitcher Miranda Tamayo is 3-6 with a 5.22 ERA in 68.1 innings pitched with 47 strikeouts, while freshman pitcher Emily Kirk is 0-1 with a 10.84 EERA in 10.1 innings pitched with five strikeouts.
Kentucky leads the all-time series with Indiana 9-8, taking the series lead after defeating the Hoosier last year in Bloomington, Ind., 5-0. Head coach Rachel Lawson is 4-3 all-time against IU, including a 2-2 mark during her tenure at Kentucky. Last year, then-senior Lauren Cumbess tossed seven scoreless innings in the circle against the Hoosier, allowing only two hits with five strikeouts. Offensively, Griffin Joiner blasted a three-run home run and had two hits and four RBI. Sylver Samuel, Ansley Smith, Nikki Sagermann and Cumbess each had multi-hit games. Indiana tossed Lora Olsen in the circle, who went 4.2 innings with three runs allowed, while Meaghan Murphy went 2.1 innings with two runs allowed.
Tickets for Wednesday's game vs. Indiana 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. Single-game tickets 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. Gates open one hour prior to first pitch and all ticket sales at John Cropp Stadium on gamedays are cash only.
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Kentucky - No. 13 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25; No. 12 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Tuesday, March 17
Kentucky def. Murray State 5-2
Kentucky def. Murray State 1-0
Wednesday, March 18
Indiana at Kentucky - 7 p.m. ET - Live Stats - SEC Network