No. 9 Softball Ready for Challenging Mary Nutter Classic

Feb. 18, 2015

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – Continuing its 24-game road trip to start the 2015 season, the No. 9 University of Kentucky softball team will face a challenging schedule this weekend in the 2015 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif., which is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the nation. The Wildcats will play six games in three days at the event, including several games against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national rankings.

The Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic is one of the largest and most competitive Division I softball tournaments outside of the NCAA and Southeastern Conference tournament. This year's event features 35 teams, including 18 that made last season's NCAA tournament and three of the eight Women's College World Series teams. The entire tournament is held at Big League Dreams Park across five fields. This is Kentucky’s first year to play in the event.

Kentucky (6-2) will begin play on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. ET vs. No. 10 Arizona followed by a 6:30 p.m. ET battle against Long Beach State. On Friday, the Wildcats begin the day at 1 p.m. ET against LIU Brooklyn before a 3:30 p.m. ET game against Oregon State, who has been receiving votes in the national rankings before this week. Kentucky concludes the tournament Saturday with an 8:30 p.m. ET game with No. 3 Oklahoma, before an 11 p.m. ET contest with San Diego State, who is receiving votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25.

UK is coming off a 2-1 weekend at the 2015 Phyllis Rafter Memorial Invitational where it posted victories over Southern Illinois and IUPUI before falling to host Kennesaw State. Junior outfielder Sylver Samuel led the way for Kentucky at the event, hitting .600 with five runs scored and two stolen bases. Senior catcher Griffin Joiner hit a home run during the event with four RBI, while juniors Ansley Smith and Christian Stokes also blasted their first home runs of the season. Junior infielder Nikki Sagermann hit two homers at the event with six RBI.

The Wildcats enter the weekend ranked ninth in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 and 11th in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Top 25. The rankings mark the 34th consecutive top 25 listing the Wildcats have been ranked in dating back to the 2013 season.

Arizona enters the weekend with a perfect 9-0 record and ranked No. 10 in the nation in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. The Wildcats started their season by sweeping a three-game set against Oklahoma State before hosing a home tournament last weekend and earning wins over Drake – twice –, Loyola Marymount, Wright State, San Jose State and Loyola Chicago. Arizona has been paced offensively by Mandie Perez, who is hitting .600 with three doubles and one RBI, while Alexis Dotson is hitting .556 with a double. Eva Watson is hitting .538 with two triples, while Katiyana Mauga has a team-best five homers and Trish Park has four homers with 14 RBI. In the circle, Park has tossed 26 innings with a 0.54 ERA and 12 strikeouts, while Nancy Bowling has tossed 12 innings with a 1.17 ERA and Michelle Floyd a 1.40 ERA in 10 innings pitched. Arizona leads the all-time series 2-0 with the last meeting coming in 2001.

Long Beach State will open its trip to the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against Kentucky on Thursday with a 6-4 record. The 49ers have wins this season over Sacramento State, Northwestern State, Utah, Boise State, Nevada and Utah State. LBSU hosted a five-game tournament its opening weekend before traveling to Las Vegas for an event last weekend. Shayna Kimbrough leads the team with a .394 average, adding two doubles, while Julia Lombardi is hitting .391 with two doubles and one homer. Lauren Lombardi also has a home run with 12 RBI. In the circle, Christina Clermont is 2-0 with a 2.91 ERA in 21.2 innings pitched, while Amanda Hansen has a 3.63 ERA in 27 innings pitched. The 49ers lead the all-time series 3-2 with the last meeting coming last season.

LIU Brooklyn enters the tournament with a 1-9 record with its lone win coming against Georgia Tech. The Blackbirds played in the Florida International Invitational last weekend, falling to FIU, Purdue and Memphis. Whitney West leads the team offensively with a .355 average and four RBI, while Angie Vazquez and Madison Green each have a home run. Shelley Procter has tossed 26.2 innings with a 6.56 ERA and 0-5 record and 16 strikeouts. Nicole Archer has thrown 16.1 innings with a 9.86 ERA and 10 strikeouts. Kentucky’s lone meeting with LIU Brooklyn came in 2012 with UK defeating the Blackbirds.

Oregon State has received votes in the national rankings this season and enters the tournament with an 8-3 record. The Beavers played in the Kajikawa Classic two weekends ago and went 4-1 with wins over Ole Miss, Pacific, Indiana, Wisconsin and Nevada. Last weekend in the Campbell/Cartier Classic, OSU defeated Central Michigan, Seaton Hall and North Dakota State. Mikela Manewa leads the team with a .464 average and seven RBI, while Hannah Akamine it hitting .400 with three doubles and 11 RBI. Dani Gilmore and Sammi Noland each have two home runs. In the circle, Beverly Miller is 3-3 with a 1.11 ERA in 44 innings pitched, while Melanie Dembinski is 4-0 with a 1.24 ERA in 17 innings pitched. UK’s last meeting with Oregon State in 2013 was its first with the Wildcats earning a victory.

Oklahoma will be the second team Kentucky faces in the tournament with nine wins as the Sooners start the weekend ranked third in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. OU won its first nine games to start the season with two wins over DePaul, who was receiving votes, a win over No. 15 Washington and a win over No. 21 Arizona State. The Sooners lone loss came to the highly ranked Sun Devils in Tempe last weekend 8-4. Lauren Chamberlin leads the team with a .519 average, adding one triple, six homers and 21 RBI, while Kady Self is hitting .462 with a home run and Shelby Pendley and Nicole Pendley each have two homers. In the circle, Paige Parker has tossed a season-high 24.2 innings with a 3-0 record and 1.42 ERA, while Shelby Pendley is 4-1 with a 3.26 ERA in 19.1 innings pitched. Kelsey Stevens has tossed 18.2 innings with a 3.75 ERA and 2-0 record. Oklahoma leads the all-time series with Kentucky 5-1 with the two teams meeting each of the last three seasons.

San Diego State starts the weekend with a 7-2 record with its only losses coming to two highly ranked teams in Texas A&M and UCLA. Last weekend the Aztecs hosted the Campbell/Cartier Classic, going 4-0 with wins over North Dakota State, Oregon State, Seaton Hall and Central Michigan. Kayla Jordan leads the team with a .348 average, adding a double, triple and two RBI, while Kayla Bufardeci is also hitting .348 with two doubles and five RBI. Lorena Bauer and Jaylene Ignacio each have two home runs. Erica Romero has tossed a season-high 49 innings with a 1.57 ERA and 6-2 record, while Andi Smith has tossed five innings with a 4.20 ERA. SDSU leads the all-time series with Kentucky 3-2 with the last meeting coming in 2013.

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