Prince Shines in Relief as Softball Claims Series vs. No. 1 LSU
Box Score | Season Stats (PDF) | Photo Gallery
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- University of Kentucky sophomore pitcher Meagan Prince entered the game in the third inning with two runners on base and one out and tossed 4.1 brilliant relief innings, while junior infielder Nikki Sagermann recorded two hits in the game, including her fifth home run of the season, as the No. 15 Wildcats defeated No. 1 LSU on Saturday, 5-2, to claim the Southeastern Conference series at John Cropp Stadium.
The win for Kentucky (23-8, 3-5 SEC) clinches the Wildcat's first SEC series win of the season. UK took down LSU (31-3, 5-3 SEC) on Friday night, 3-1, to claim the program's first-ever win over a No. 1-ranked team. The series win is Kentucky's first over a top-five ranked SEC team since taking two of three against No. 2 Florida in 2012. Kentucky has now won the series over LSU two of the last three times the two teams have met in a regular-season set. Prior to Lawson, UK had only won 11 SEC series in program history, while head coach Rachel Lawson has won 32 in her eight years at the helm of the program.
So far this season, UK has defeated five ranked foes, including four ranked inside the top 10 at the time UK defeated them. Saturday's win was the 60th over a ranked foe under Lawson, including 33 over top-10 teams and 18 against top-five teams. The Wildcats have played great softball at home this season, sitting 7-0 at John Cropp Stadium, which ties the best home start in program history. Kentucky also started 7-0 at home last season and in 2006. UK is 41-17 in three years at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky will look for the sweep in the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network+ with Dave Baker and former Purdue head coach, Louisville associate head coach and Michigan assistant coach Carol Bruggeman calling the action. The game can be seen through WatchESPN. Live stats will also be available online at UKathletics.com.
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. 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.
Sunday is Family Fun Day at the park, featuring pregame and postgame youth activities, including face painting, hair bow making, inflatables, autographs and pictures with the team. After Sunday's game - weather permitting - all kids eighth grade and younger can run the bases.
Freshman pitcher Erin Rethlake started the game for Kentucky and breezed through two innings with only one hit allowed before LSU posted four one-out hits in the third inning to grab its first lead of the series. That prompted a pitching change as Lawson turned to Prince, who walked the first batter she faced but got a strikeout and groundout to end the threat in the third. Prince went on to shut down LSU in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings and recorded the first two outs of the seventh inning before allowing a walk. Lawson removed Prince for junior Kelsey Nunley, who struck out Dylan Supak on three pitches to seal the win.
Prince took home the win in the game, tossing 4.1 innings with five strikeouts and only two hits allowed. The win moves the native of Martin, Tenn., to 9-4 on the season with a 3.18 ERA. Rethlake received a no-decision in the game with 2.1 innings pitched, allowing two earned runs on five hits with three strikeouts. Nunley picked up her third save of the season and sixth of her career, tying her for first all-time in program history in saves.
Offensively, Sagermann was responsible for igniting two of UK's scoring innings, starting with a solo home run in the second inning to put UK up 1-0. The native of Buford, Ga., started UK's game-winning rally in the sixth inning with a single up the middle, followed by singles from freshman Brooklin Hinz and senior Kara Howard to load the bases with no outs. Junior Ansley Smith grounded a ball to the LSU shortstop, who tried to throw out Sagermann at home, but the Tiger catcher dropped the ball for an error, allowing the eventual game-winning run to score. An RBI hit-by-pitch from junior Christian Stokes and a ground-rule sacrifice fly -- with the LSU third baseman making a great diving catch on a pop out, but fell into the UK dugout for a dead ball catch-and-carry, advancing each baserunner up a bag -- gave UK a 5-2 lead it wouldn't relinquish.
Kentucky tied the game 2-2 in the fifth inning behind the speed of junior centerfield Sylver Samuel, who went 2-for-3 in the game with a run scored and an RBI. The native of Simpsonville, S.C., hit a one-out single and moved to third when senior Griffin Joiner singled to centerfield. The LSU centerfield threw wildly to third on the play and the ball ended up in the UK dugout, allowing Samuel to score.
Joiner went 1-for-4 in the game to extend her hitting streak to a season-best six games, while Stokes also extended her hitting streak to six games -- a career best for her -- going 1-for-3 with an RBI. Stokes has reached base safely in 12 consecutive games and has a hit in 17 of her last 22 games.
LSU started pitcher Carly Hoover in the circle with the freshman tossing five innings, allowing five runs -- three earned -- on eight hits with seven strikeouts and two walks allowed. She was replaced in the bottom of the sixth inning by Baylee Corbello, who hit the first batter she faced before getting the next three Wildcats out.
Offensively, shortstop Bianka Bell and catcher Kellsi Kloss recorded RBI for the Tigers with Bell going 2-for-3 with a double and run scored, while Kloss was 1-for-4. Centerfielder A.J. Andrews was 1-for-4 in the game with two strikeouts, while rightfielder Bailey Landry had a double and run scored and infielder Sahvanna Jaquish went 1-for-3 with a walk.
For more information on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter or Instagram or Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Kentucky 23-8, 3-5 SEC
LSU 31-3, 5-3 SEC
Kentucky - No. 16 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25; No. 15 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
LSU - No. 1 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25; No. 1 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Friday, March 27
Kentucky def. LSU 3-1
Saturday, March 28
Kentucky def. LSU 5-2
Sunday, March 29
LSU at Kentucky -- 1 p.m. ET -- Live Stats -- SEC Network+