Joiner Homers Twice as No. 14 Georgia Sweeps Softball
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- University of Kentucky senior catcher Griffin Joiner hit two home runs in the game, including a three-run shot in the first inning, but No. 14 Georgia rallied for six runs in the top of the fifth inning on three bunt singles followed by a grand slam from senior Paige Wilson, lifting the Bulldogs to a 8-4 victory and three-game series sweep on Sunday at John Cropp Stadium.
After Georgia (39-13, 14-9 Southeastern Conference) scored two runs in the top of the first inning on RBI by third baseman Anna Swafford and shortstop Wilson, Kentucky responded in the bottom of the frame. Junior shortstop Christian Stokes singled to centerfield before fellow junior Maisie Steed singled up the middle with Stokes moving to third and Steed to second when the throw was late to third base. That set the stage for Joiner, who blasted her ninth home run of the season off the foul pole in leftfield to put Kentucky up 3-2.
The score remained in UK's favor until Georgia rallied behind three bunt singles in the fifth inning, loading the bases for 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-American Alex Hugo, who walked to tie the game 3-3. After infielder Tina Iosefa was hit by a pitch to give Georgia a 4-3 lead, Wilson blasted her second home run of the season to centerfield to put the Bulldogs on top 8-4.
Kentucky (29-20, 5-16 SEC) cut the lead to 8-4 in the bottom of the inning when Joiner capped off her great senior day at the plate with her 10th home run of the season well over the wall in leftfield. The multi-homer game for Joiner was the third of her career and the first for a UK player since junior Nikki Sagermann hit two roundtrippers earlier this year against Kennesaw State.
The Wildcats started junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley in the circle. Nunley went five innings allowing eight earned runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts and two walks allowed. She received the loss in the game, moving to 12-13 on the year. Sophomore Meagan Prince tossed the final two innings, allowing only one hit with four strikeouts.
Georgia started ace Chelsea Wilkinson in the circle, who went 4.1 innings with four earned runs allowed on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks. She was replaced in the fifth inning with one out by freshman Brittany Gray, who tossed a perfect 2.2 innings with three strikeouts and no hits allowed. Wilkinson picked up the win, moving to 24-8 on the season.
All six of Kentucky's hits in the game came from the top of the order as Stokes and Steed were 1-for-4 with a run scored, while Joiner was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and four RBI and Sagermann was 2-for-2 with two singles. Joiner came to the plate in the bottom of the seventh inning with two outs for the final home at-bat of her career and received a standing ovation from the 1,548 fans at John Cropp Stadium.
Before the game Kentucky honored senior outfielder Kara Howard, Joiner and graduate assistant athletic trainer Bri Papotto for their hard work and dedication to the UK program over the past few years. Howard and Joiner are one of the winningest senior classes in program history, helping Kentucky to three NCAA Tournament appearances, two NCAA Super Regionals and one Women's College World Series.
Although UK's home schedule is over, the Wildcats have one more SEC series left this season as it will travel south to Knoxville, Tenn., to face No. 11/12 Tennessee next weekend. The series begins Friday night at 6:30 p.m. ET before a 7 p.m. ET start on Saturday on ESPNU and 1 p.m. ET finale on Sunday on ESPN. Live stats from all three games will be available online at UKathletics.com.
For more information on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter and Instagram of Kentucky Softball on Facebook.