No. 11 Softball Breaks Home Stretch, Travels to Ole Miss
April 10, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Winners of four straight and six of its last seven games, the No. 11 University of Kentucky softball team looks to continue its winning ways this weekend as it resumes Southeastern Conference action with a three-game road series against Ole Miss starting Friday night at 7 p.m. ET at the Ole Miss Softball Complex.
Friday’s series opener will be followed by a 3 p.m. ET first pitch on Saturday and a 2 p.m. ET series final on Sunday. Live stats from all three games will be available online at UKathletics.com.
The three-game series is the fifth league series of the season for Kentucky (33-8, 7-5 SEC) with the previous four series coming against teams either ranked or receiving votes in the national rankings at the time the series was played. The Wildcats started league action with the program’s first back-to-back road series wins at Mississippi State, who was receiving votes, and No. 16 Missouri. After dropping two of three games to No. 21 Auburn the last weekend in March, UK responded with a big series win over No. 18 Texas A&M last weekend in Lexington.
Kentucky is coming off back-to-back run-rule wins over Wright State and Mississippi Valley State in non-conference midweek action. UK defeated Wright State on Tuesday 9-1 before a 10-0 victory over MVSU on Wednesday. The two games concluded a 15-game home stand for Kentucky with the Wildcats earning an 11-4 record during the stretch. UK is an impressive 26-3 against non-conference foes this season, including 11-1 at home with Wednesday’s game marking the final non-conference home game of the year for the Wildcats.
UK’s offense was the story in the two wins, posting 19 runs on 14 hits in the two games, while only allowing one run on six hits to the two opponents. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel paced UK offensively in the wins, going 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two stolen bases, while senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess was 3-for-6 with her first career grand slam and six RBI. Senior outfielder Emily Gaines had two hits and two RBI in the game, while sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann had four RBI. Freshman Breanne Ray hit her first career homer in the win over MVSU, launching a leadoff home run.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley earned the win over Wright State, throwing five innings, allowing one unearned run on three hits with five strikeouts to pick up her 15th win of the season. Cumbess earned the win over MVSU, throwing four scoreless innings, giving up only three hits with five strikeouts to move her record to a perfect 9-0 this season. Freshman pitcher Shannon Smith, who was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday for her strong outings against Texas A&M, tossed the final inning of the MVSU game, striking out two batters.
Gaines leads Kentucky overall this season at the dish with a .429 (30-for-70) average, adding six doubles, four homers and 26 RBI, while junior catcher Griffin Joiner leads the team in home runs with eight. Sagermann is the RBI leader for UK with 32, adding six homers, a triple and five doubles, while Cumbess has six homers and 25 RBI. Samuel is hitting .376 this season with a .396 on-base percentage and team-best 11 stolen bases.
Nunley headlines the UK pitching staff with a 15-4 record and 1.96 ERA, earning 110 strikeouts in 128.2 innings pitched while Cumbess is putting together a great senior season with a 9-0 record and 1.53 ERA in 78 innings pitched. Smith, along with fellow freshman Meagan Prince, have had good starts to their careers. Smith is 2-1 with a 1.63 ERA in 30 innings pitched, while Prince is 7-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 50 innings pitched.
Ole Miss enters its fifth SEC series of the season with a 20-19 record, including a 3-9 mark in league action. The Rebels are 10-4 at the Ole Miss Softball Complex in 2014. After claiming its lone SEC series win of the season a few weekends ago against Arkansas, the Rebels have lost six of their last seven games. Ole Miss was on a league bye last weekend and last played Monday night in a doubleheader at Southeastern Louisiana, winning the first game 9-0 before falling 3-2 in the second game. Ole Miss has played six games against top-10 ranked teams this season, holding a 1-5 record in those games with a win at then-No. 1 Florida to start SEC play on March 7.
Senior outfielder RT Cantillo leads the team this season with a .486 (51-for-105) average, including seven doubles, two homers, 17 RBI and seven stolen bases. Junior infielder Allison Brown is hitting .339 (40-for-118) with seven doubles and 23 RBI, while sophomore infielder/outfielder Melina Preciado is hitting .333 (11-for-33) with five stolen bases. Senior infielder Londen Ladner leads the team in home runs with six, adding a team-best 27 RBI.
In the circle, Ole Miss is led by senior pitcher Carly Hummel, who is 9-7 with a 3.17 ERA, striking out 90 in 95 innings pitched. Senior pitcher Shelby Jo Fenter is 5-4 on the year with a 3.14 ERA in 55.2 innings pitched, while freshman Emily Gaitan is 4-5 with a 3.72 ERA in 52.2 innings pitched. Sophomore pitcher Madi Osias is 2-2 this season with a 3.42 ERA in 30.2 innings pitched.
Kentucky has won sixth consecutive series against Ole Miss, including claiming the final two games in last season’s series in Lexington. UK won the series against the Rebels in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, while the Rebels took the series in 2006 in Oxford. Ole Miss leads the all-time series 27-18, including a 15-8 mark in Oxford. UK is 10-4 against the Rebels under seventh-year head coach Rachel Lawson.
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Kentucky – 33-8, 7-5 SEC
Ole Miss – 20-19, 3-9 SEC
Kentucky – No. 11 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 11 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25
Ole Miss – not ranked
Friday, April 11
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss – 7 p.m. ET – Live Stats
Saturday, April 12
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss – 3 p.m. ET – Live Stats
Sunday, April 13
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss – 2 p.m. ET – Live Stats