No. 8 Softball Visits in-State Foe WKU for Midweek Showdown
April 21, 2014
LEXINGTON, Ky. – After earning its fifth Southeastern Conference series win of the season last weekend against Arkansas, the No. 8 University of Kentucky softball team will break from league action on Tuesday as it travels to face in-state foe WKU at 7 p.m. ET at the WKU Softball Complex in Bowling Green, Ky.
The midweek conference battle is the only meeting of the season between the two in-state rivals. Live stats and live video (subscription required) will be available for the game at the links provided below. Following the midweek game, UK will return home for its final regular season home games of the season this weekend against No. 4 Tennessee. The series starts with a 6 p.m. ET first pitch on Friday, followed by a 5 p.m. ET start on Saturday and 2 p.m. ET series finale on Sunday.
Kentucky (38-9) is coming off a series win over Arkansas last weekend, which was its fifth SEC series win of the season. UK won the first two games of the series before falling in the series finale, which snapped a nine-game winning streak, which was the second longest in school history. The two wins also extended UK’s SEC winning streak to seven games, which was the longest winning streak in league action in program history. UK has 38 regular-season wins this season, tying the most in a regular-season in program history.
Sophomore infielder Nikki Sagermann had three hits over the weekend, including a double, two home runs and three RBI. Sagermann hit a game-winning solo home run in the sixth inning Friday night before a two-run homer in the fourth inning on Saturday that was eventually the game winner as well. It marked the third consecutive game she launched a game-winning home run after a solo shot in the 10th inning two Sundays ago vs. Ole Miss. Fellow sophomore Ansley Smith went 2-for-3 in the series with two walks and two runs scored, while senior infielder Krystal Smith hit her second home run of the season and senior pitcher/infielder Lauren Cumbess had two RBI.
Sophomore pitcher Kelsey Nunley led Kentucky in the circle, going 2-0 with a 0.70 ERA against one of the best offensive teams in the SEC. Nunley threw 10 innings on the weekend, allowing two runs – one earned – on eight hits with six strikeouts. Arkansas, who entered the weekend hitting .319 as a team, hit just .205 against Nunley.
Senior outfielder Emily Gaines leads Kentucky in batting average this season at .390 (32-for-82) with six doubles, five homers and 30 RBI. Sophomore outfielder Sylver Samuel is second on the team at .352 (38-for-108) with a team-best 13 stolen bases, while Cumbess is hitting .333 (46-for-138) with seven homers and 32 RBI and junior catcher Griffin Joiner has a .323 (43-for-133) average with eight homers and 26 RBI. Sagermann leads Kentucky with 10 homers and 37 RBI and has four homers in UK’s last four games.
Cumbess is 10-0 this season in the circle with a 1.75 ERA in 84 innings pitched, while Nunley is 19-4 with a 1.85 ERA in 151.1 innings pitched. Nunley’s 19 wins are the second most in a single season in school history. Last season, the native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., earned a school record 27 wins and is now the first player in school history to win 19 or more games in consecutive seasons.
WKU enters the midweek game with a 31-15-1 record and 11-7 mark at the WKU Softball Complex. The Hilltoppers are led offensively by senior infielder Olivia Watkins, who is hitting .446 (70-for-157) with 49 stolen bases, while junior infielder Preslie Cruce is hitting .309 (42-for-136) with 10 doubles, five homers and 26 RBI. Senior outfielder Kelsie Mattox is hitting .302 (38-for-126) with four homers and 35 RBI, while senior infielder Amanda Thomas leads the team with 41 RBI.
In the circle, senior Emily Rousseau leads the team with a 16-11 record and 2.52 ERA in 180.2 innings pitched with 143 strikeouts, while freshman Hannah Miniard is 13-4 with a 3.02 ERA in 106.2 innings pitched. Junior Janna Scheff is 2-0 this season with a 3.46 ERA in 32.1 innings pitched.
Kentucky leads the all-time series against WKU, 12-7, including a 4-3 mark in games played in Bowling Green. UK head coach Rachel Lawson, who was the head coach at WKU from 2005-07, is 5-0 in her seven-year tenure at Kentucky against the Hilltoppers. The Wildcats were scheduled to face WKU twice last season, winning a 7-1 game at John Cropp Stadium, before the return trip to WKU was canceled due to inclement weather. The two teams have met annually since 2000, with 2008 and 2011 being the lone exceptions.
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Kentucky 36-8, 10-5 SEC
Kentucky – No. 10 in ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25; No. 8 in NFCA/USA Today Top 25
WKU – not ranked