No. 8 Softball Continues Road Swing at Marshall
March 10, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After claiming its first Southeastern Conference series of the season last weekend at Mississippi State, the No. 8 University of Kentucky softball team will break from league action on Tuesday as it travels to Huntington, W.Va., for a midweek non-conference game with Marshall at 4 p.m. ET at Dot Hicks Field.
The game continues an eight-game road trip for Kentucky (18-3, 2-1 SEC). UK started the stretch with three games last weekend at Mississippi State to open up league action before three games this upcoming weekend at highly ranked Missouri. The road swing ends next Tuesday as UK travels to Bloomington, Ind., for a non-conference game with the Hoosiers at 5 p.m. ET. The Wildcats will return from Indiana to start a 15-game home stand, beginning a stretch of 21 of its next 25 games at John Cropp Stadium.
The Wildcats started the road swing with two wins against Mississippi State, marking the third time in the last four seasons that UK has won its opening series of league action. Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley was the star for UK in the circle, throwing 14 scoreless innings, including her second career no-hitter on Friday night. For the weekend, Nunley went 2-0, allowing only three hits with nine strikeouts. Overall, Nunley is 7-1 this season with a 2.00 ERA, striking out 53 in 67.2 innings pitched.
Freshman pitcher Meagan Prince is second on the team in wins at 5-1 with a 1.85 ERA, striking out 26 in 24.1 innings pitched, while senior Lauren Cumbess is 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in 40 innings pitched. Freshman Shannon Smith is 2-1 on the year with a 1.08 ERA, striking out 20 in 16.2 innings pitched.
Offensively, junior catcher Griffin Joiner paces UK with a .375 (21-for-56) batting average, including three doubles, six home runs and 14 RBI, while senior outfielder Emily Gaines is hitting .346 (9-for-26) with a homer and five RBI. Sophomore outfielders Darington Richardson and Sylver Samuel are hitting .316 and .294, respectively, while fellow sophomore infielder Christian Stokes is tied for the team lead in doubles with four. Senior outfielders Emily Jolly and Ginny Carroll rank second and third in home runs with five and three, respectively. Sophomore Ansley Smith has the second highest on-base percentage on the club adding three doubles and two homers.
Defensively, Kentucky has played well this season with the second fewest errors committed in the SEC with a .983 fielding percentage, which would rank as the highest team fielding percentage in school history.
Marshall (6-14, 1-2 C-USA) will open its home schedule against the Wildcats on Tuesday after starting the season with 20 straight road games. The Thundering Herd have posted wins this season against Loyola Chicago, Delaware, Maryland Eastern Shore, Saint Peter’s, Florida Atlantic and Michigan State. Offensively, Marshall is paced by Kaelynn Greene, who is hitting .423 (30-for-71) with one double and one triple, while Shaelynn Braxton is hitting .339 (21-for-62) with a team-best six homers and 16 RBI.
In the circle, the Thundering Herd are led by Lindsey Fadnek, who is 2-3 with a 3.57 ERA, striking out 20 in 45.1 innings pitched, while Jordan Dixon is 4-9 with a 7.43 ERA, posting 72 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched.
Kentucky and Marshall met twice last season with UK claiming two one-run wins. The first came in regular-season action as UK used a come-from-behind effort in the bottom of the seventh inning to best Marshall 4-3 before also claiming a walk-off win in the 2013 NCAA Lexington Regional, 2-1. UK owns the all-time series against Marshall, 11-2.
The game will serve as a reunion of sorts for Marshall assistant coach Chanda Bell, who is most the decorated pitcher in UK history. The native of Indianapolis, Ind., ranks first all-time in opponent batting average, strikeouts, wins and saves and is second all-time in appearances, innings pitched, games started and ERA. Bell was an undergraduate assistant coach at Kentucky last season.
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Kentucky – No. 10 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 8 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25
Marshall – not ranked