Softball Drops Series to South Carolina After DH Split
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LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 14 University of Kentucky softball team won the first game of a doubleheader Saturday, 2-0, to even the three-game series, but South Carolina got a solo home run by junior outfielder Alaynie Page in the 11th inning of the day's second game, leading the Gamecocks to a 7-6 series-clinching win at John Cropp Stadium.
Kentucky (28-16, 5-13 Southeastern Conference) will return to action Tuesday when it plays host to Louisville at 6 p.m. ET at John Cropp Stadium. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network+ through WatchESPN with Dave "Buzz" Baker and former UK outfielder Ginny Carroll on the call. The game will be the first of two midweek non-conference home games for UK as the Wildcats will host WKU -- who is receiving votes in the national rankings -- Wednesday at 6 p.m. ET. Tuesday's game is a "Blue Out" as fans are encouraged to fill John Cropp Stadium with the first 500 UK fans in attendance, receiving a free UK t-shirt.
Tickets for both games 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 game days at the ticket booths outside John Cropp Stadium with gates opening one hour prior to first pitch.
Kentucky sophomore pitcher Meagan Prince and junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley combined for a shutout in the day's first game as Prince got the win to move to 12-5 on the season. Prince tossed 5.2 innings in the game, allowing four hits with one strikeout and three walks. She was replaced with two outs in the sixth inning by Nunley, who tossed a hitless 1.1 to end the game and pick up her fifth save of the season.
Offensively, Kentucky posted four hits in the day's first game, scoring its runs on a bases-loaded walk and a throwing error. Junior outfielder Sylver Samuel and sophomore outfielder Breanne Ray both went 1-for-3 in the game, while junior infielder Nikki Sagermann and junior outfielder Darington Richardson were 1-for-2.
South Carolina (31-17, 6-12 SEC) started senior pitcher Julie Sarratt in both games Saturday. Sarratt tossed six innings in the day's first game, allowing two runs -- one earned -- on six hits with four strikeouts and six walks. Offensively, Victoria Williams was 2-for-2 in the game, while Ansley Ard was 1-for-1 and Taylor Williams was 1-for-2.
The second game of the doubleheader was a wild one as South Carolina outlasted Kentucky in an 11-inning marathon, 7-6. The Gamecocks scored seven runs on 14 hits in the game, while Kentucky posted six runs on 13 hits. The biggest hit of the game came off the bat of Page, who broke a streak of nine straight Gamecock batters retired with a solo home run to leftfield to lift USC to the series-clinching win.
Junior infielder Christian Stokes was the leader offensively, going 3-for-6 with three doubles, tying the school record for doubles in a game. Samuel was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases, while senior catcher Griffin Joiner was 3-for-4 with a run scored and RBI and junior Maisie Steed was 1-for-4 with a three-run home run. Senior Kara Howard was 2-for-4 in the game with an RBI.
Nunley started the game and allowed four unearned runs in the second inning before freshman pitcher Erin Rethlake tossed three innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits with four strikeouts. Nunley came back in to pitch in the sixth inning and finished the game, going eight total innings with five runs allowed -- one earned -- on 14 hits with a career-high tying 11 strikeouts. The loss moves Nunley to 11-11 on the season, although she allowed the fewest earned runs of any of the four pitchers that threw in the day's second game.
Sarratt tossed the first three innings for South Carolina before sophomore Nickie Blue tossed the final eight innings and allowed two earned runs on eight hits with four walks and no strikeouts. The win moved Blue to 16-7 on the season.
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