Steed's Two-Run Blast Lifts No. 11 Softball Past Ole Miss 3-1
April 11, 2014
OXFORD, Miss. – University of Kentucky sophomore leftfielder Maisie Steed launched her sixth home run of the season in the seventh inning before UK plated an insurance run in the fourth inning, giving sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley all the run support she needed as No. 11 Kentucky posted a 3-1 series-opening win over Ole Miss on Friday night at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in Oxford, Miss.
The series continues Saturday with a 3 p.m. ET first pitch before a 2 p.m. ET series final on Sunday. Live stats and free radio from both games will be available online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (34-8, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) scored first to start the game with a two-run home run by Steed in the second inning after senior outfielder Emily Gaines began the rally by getting hit by a pitch. UK added its third and final run of the game in the fourth inning with the rally starting after Gaines was hit by a pitch for the second time in the game. Senior first baseman Lauren Cumbess followed Gaines’ free pass with a single to rightfield just out of reach of Melina Preciado’s diving attempt. Gaines hustled to third on the play before Preciado recovered from the diving try and threw wildly to first base behind Cumbess with the ball ending up in the UK dugout. The error allowed Gaines to score from third and Cumbess to reach second, giving UK a 3-0 lead.
The Wildcats entered the bottom of the seventh inning with a three-run lead before Ole Miss (20-20, 3-10 SEC) mounted a comeback effort. The Rebels started the seventh inning against Nunley with a single and walk before a fielder’s choice with the out at third base, left runners on first and second with one out. The Rebels loaded the bases after a pinch-hit single to bring up centerfield RT Cantillo, who hit into a fielder’s choice with UK getting the out at home, keeping the bases loaded and the score 3-0. Shortstop Haley Culley scored the Rebels lone run of the game on an infield single, before Nunley got third baseman Allison Brown to strikeout to end the game and the Ole Miss rally.
Nunley picked up her team-leading 16th win of the season in the game, tossing seven innings, allowing one earned run on six hits with four strikeouts. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., is now 16-4 on the year with a 1.91 ERA. Nunley has 43 career wins in her young tenure with the Wildcats, sitting third most all-time in school history. Nunley also sits third all-time in strikeouts with 307 and is just the fourth pitcher in program history to record 300-plus strikeouts in a career.
Offensively, Nunley got all the run support she needed from Steed’s big hit in the second inning with the UK leftfielder finishing the game 1-for-2 with a run scored and two RBI. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel went 1-for-3 in the game with a single and now has a hit in 16 of Kentucky’s last 18 games and is riding a five-game hitting streak. Cumbess went 1-for-2 in the game with a single, moving her hitting streak to four games, including hits in 17 of UK’s last 21 contests. Gaines reached base all three times she came to plate, getting hit by a pitch twice and walking once. The native of London, Ky., has reached base safely in 16 straight games for UK with hits in 13 of those games. Two of those three games Gaines has not recorded a hit during that stretch was because she did not record an official at-bat.
Ole Miss started Carly Hummel in the circle with the senior throwing the first four innings of the game, allowing three earned runs on three hits with five strikeouts. She was replaced to start the fifth inning by senior Shelby Jo Fenter, who tossed a scoreless fifth and sixth innings with only one hit allowed before Hummel reentered to toss a perfect seventh inning.
The Rebels were paced offensively by the top three batters in their batting order with Cantillo, Culley and Brown each posting singles. Second baseman Alyssa Invergo and designated player Lauren Lindsey each had hits in the game.
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Kentucky – 34-8, 8-5 SEC
Ole Miss – 20-20, 3-10 SEC
Kentucky – No. 11 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 11 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25
Ole Miss – not ranked
Friday, April 11
Kentucky def. Ole Miss 3-1