Sacrifice Flies Lead No. 3 Florida to 2-0 Win vs. No. 13 Softball
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley had another strong outing in the circle Monday, limiting No. 3 Florida to two earned runs on six hits with three strikeouts, but sacrifice flies in the first and fifth innings were all the Gators needed to claim a 2-0 victory and clinch the three-game Southeastern Conference series sweep at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.
Nunley, who threw a complete game in the series opener Saturday, allowing just one earned run on three hits, was just as impressive Monday in the finale. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., went all six innings for UK with two earned runs allowed on six hits with three strikeouts and four walks. Both Florida runs were scored through sacrifice flies as Nunley worked out of trouble brilliantly throughout the entire game. The loss moves Nunley to 11-9 on the season with the junior having five losses this season where she has allowed two earned runs of less.
Florida senior pitcher Lauren Haeger tossed her second complete-game shutout of the series Monday, allowing two hits through seven innings with three walks and four strikeouts. The win moves Haeger to 19-0 on the season.
The Gators scored first in the game when Kelsey Stewart started the bottom of the first inning with a single, moving to third on a double to leftfield by Nicole DeWitt. That set the stage for Merritt to hit a sac fly to leftfield to give Florida an early 1-0 lead.
Florida struck again in the fifth inning when Stewart collected her third hit of the night with a triple to leftfield, before consecutive walks loaded the bases with no outs. After Nunley got a foul out for the first out, Haeger hit a sacrifice fly to leftfied to put UF up 2-0. Nunley got a groundout to end the threat.
Offensively, Kentucky posted two hits in the game, getting a double from junior infielder Maisie Steed, who went 1-for-3, while fellow junior infielder Ansley Smith went 1-for-2 with a single. Junior infielder Christian Stokes went 0-for-3 in the game, ending a team-best stretch of 21 consecutive games where she had reached base safely.
Kentucky will return to action Wednesday with a midweek non-conference contest at Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. ET. The game concludes a four-game road stretch for the Wildcats, who will start an eight-game homestand this weekend at John Cropp Stadium against South Carolina, who is receiving votes in the national rankings. All three games will be on the SEC Network+ through WatchESPN.
Florida was the third consecutive top-five conference foe for the Wildcats, who started this tough run by taking two of three games over No. 1 LSU before a win last weekend over No. 5 Alabama. Kentucky is the only team in the conference so far this season to face three straight top-five ranked conference foes. UK's final three SEC series after Florida are against South Carolina, who is receiving votes, No. 11/14 Tennessee and No. 12/12 Georgia.
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Kentucky 27-14, 4-11 SEC
Florida 40-4, 11-4 SEC
Kentucky -- No. 13 USA Today/NFCA Top 25; No. 15 ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Florida -- No. 3 USA Today/NFCA Top 25; No. 3 ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Saturday, April 11
Florida def. Kentucky 1-0
Sunday, April 12
Florida def. Kentucky 6-3
Monday, April 13
Florida def. Kentucky 2-0