No. 14 Softball Ends Road Stretch at EKU on Wednesday
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The No. 14 University of Kentucky softball team will play its final road non-conference game of the season Wednesday when it travels to in-state rival Eastern Kentucky for a 7 p.m. ET first pitch at Gertrude Hood Field in Richmond, Ky.
The game is the annual Autism Awareness game for EKU (18-22) as there will be a silent auction before and during the game with all proceeds going to the Bobby Whitlock Jr. Foundation. Live stats from the game will be available online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky (27-14) is coming off being swept last weekend by No. 3 Florida in Gainesville, marking the third straight top-five nationally ranked Southeastern Conference opponent UK has faced. The Wildcats are the only team in the conference to face three consecutive top-five ranked opponents with UK earning three wins during that nine-game stretch. UK's game at EKU concludes a four-game road swing with the Wildcats playing eight of their last 11 regular-season games at John Cropp Stadium.
Junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley was impressive in the circle for Kentucky against the Gators, who entered the series ranked 10th nationally in scoring. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., tossed two complete games, allowing just three earned runs on nine hits with eight strikeouts. In the series opener, Nunley allowed just one run and three hits, marking the fourth time in 2015 the Gators had been held to one run or fewer and three hits or fewer. In Monday's finale, Nunley allowed two runs on sacrifice flies with three strikeouts. The two losses marked the fourth and fifth times this season Nunley has allowed two earned runs of fewer and received a loss.
Nunley leads Kentucky in the circle with a 11-9 record and 1.86 ERA in 128.0 innings pitched with 110 strikeouts and opponents hitting just .214 against her. Freshman pitcher Erin Rethlake is 4-0 this season with a 1.65 ERA in 42.1 innings pitched with 28 strikeouts, while sophomore Meagan Prince is 11-5 with a 3.24 ERA in 82 innings pitched and 72 strikeouts. Fellow sophomore Shannon Smith is 1-0 with a 3.33 ERA in 21 innings pitched with 28 strikeouts.
Offensively, junior infielder Christian Stokes leads Kentucky with a .346 average, adding six doubles, one triple, seven homers, 23 RBI and eight stolen bases, while junior utility player Maisie Steed hits .304 with six doubles, five homers, 20 RBI and seven stolen bases. Senior catcher Griffin Joiner is hitting .304 with five doubles, one triple, seven homers and 31 RBI with a .428 on-base percentage. Juniors Nikki Sagermann and Sylver Samuel are hitting .288 with Sagermann adding five homers and 17 RBI, while Samuel has 17 stolen bases.
Freshman outfielder Paige Murphy is the leader offensively for EKU, hitting .319 with seven doubles, one triple, four homers and eight stolen bases, while senior utility player Katie Tackett has only started 27 games, but is hitting .324 with seven homers and 23 RBI. Sophomore utility player Amber Murray and junior outfielder Sarah Fobbs are hitting .311 this season with six doubles each, while Fobbs has seven homers and 21 RBI. Freshman catcher Sarah Jackson has six homers this year for EKU with a team-best 30 RBI.
Senior pitcher Shaylon Robb is the leader in the circle with a 7-8 record and 3.03 ERA in 78.2 innings pitched with 48 strikeouts and opponents hitting .276 against her. Senior pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger is 8-9 with a 4.05 ERA in 95 innings pitched with 112 strikeouts and opponents hitting .273. Junior pitcher Hayley Flynn is 3-5 with a 5.34 ERA in 57.2 innings pitched with opponents hitting .321 against her.
The two teams met earlier this season for Kentucky's home opener at John Cropp Stadium with the Wildcats posting a 2-0 victory. Stokes was 1-for-3 in the game with a RBI and run scored, while freshman Brooklin Hinz was 1-for-2 with a RBI and Samuel was 2-for-3. Prince started the game for Kentucky, going four scoreless innings with two hits allowed and three strikeouts, while Rethlake replaced her and tossed three strong innings to earn the win in the circle with three hits allowed and three strikeouts. Pittsenbarger started for EKU, going 5.1 innings with two earned runs on five hits and four strikeouts, while Robb tossed the final two outs of the game. Fobbs recorded two hits in the game, including a double.
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