Softball Concludes Home Schedule with No. 14 Georgia
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- After a thrilling extra-inning victory Wednesday night over in-state rival WKU, who is receiving votes in both national rankings, the No. 17 University of Kentucky softball team looks to carry its momentum from the win into its final home series of the season this weekend when it plays host to No. 14 Georgia at John Cropp Stadium.
The three-game Southeastern Conference series will get underway Friday at 6 p.m. ET before a 3 p.m. ET start Saturday and 1 p.m. ET first pitch Sunday. All three games will be available on the SEC Network+ through WatchESPN with Dave "Buzz" Baker and former Michigan assistant coach, Purdue head coach and Louisville associate head coach Carol Bruggeman on the call.
Single-game tickets are available and are $5 for adults, $2 for seniors (ages 65 or older) and youth (ages 6-18), while children ages five and under will be admitted free of charge. Tickets are available by calling the UK Ticket Office at 1-800-928-2287, in person at the Joe Craft Center Ticket Office or online at www.ukathletics.com/tickets. Tickets will be sold -- cash only -- on game days at the ticket booths outside John Cropp Stadium with gates opening one hour prior to first pitch.
New for 2015 is the Family Fun Pack, which is available for Saturday and Sunday SEC games. Fans can purchase four tickets (two adult, two youth) and four food vouchers (each valid for a hotdog and small soda) for only $30. Family Fun Packs must be purchased in advance by calling the ticket office at 1-800-928-2287.
UK marketing is running several promotions throughout the weekend at John Cropp Stadium, including the first 100 UK fans into the stadium Friday and Sunday will receive a set of 2015 Kentucky Softball Trading Cards. Saturday and Sunday are Family Fun Days at the park, featuring pregame and postgame youth activities, including face painting, hair bow making, inflatables, autographs and pictures with the team. After Sunday's game -- weather permitting -- all kids eighth grade and younger can run the bases.
Students that present a valid UK ID will receive free admission to all three games. A pregame block party will be held for students Friday and begin one hour before the game, featuring free food, giveaways, music, door prizes and more.
Sunday's game will be the annual Senior Day game with UK honoring one of the winningest senior classes in program history in outfielder Kara Howard and catcher Griffin Joiner. Over their four years with the program, Howard and Joiner have led Kentucky to 150 wins and counting. A pregame ceremony is scheduled before Sunday's first pitch.
Kentucky is coming off a historic and thrilling win Wednesday night against WKU, taking down the in-state rivals in a nine-inning pitching duel. The Wildcats scored an unearned run in the ninth inning to grab the win for junior pitcher Kelsey Nunley, who became the school's all-time leader in wins with the victory. Nunley is now 69-33 in her career, passing former UK star Chanda Bell for first all-time. Nunley tossed nine scoreless innings in the game, allowing six hits with nine strikeouts.
The win continues an impressive season for Nunley in the circle, although her record is 12-11. The native of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., has a 1.90 ERA in 151.1 innings pitched with 135 strikeouts and opponents hitting just .220 against her. Sophomore pitcher Meagan Prince is 12-5 this season with a 3.13 ERA in 89.1 innings pitched with 73 strikeouts, while freshman pitcher Erin Rethlake is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in 46.2 innings pitched with 34 strikeouts. Sophomore Shannon Smith is 1-1 with a 3.23 ERA in 26 innings pitched with 35 strikeouts.
Junior infielder Christian Stokes leads the offense with a .333 average, adding nine doubles, one triple, seven homers, 24 RBI and eight stolen bases, while Joiner is hitting .311 with six doubles, one triple, team-best eight homers and 34 RBI. Junior Maisie Steed is hitting .284 with six doubles, six homers and 24 RBI, while fellow junior outfielder Sylver Samuel has a team-best 19 stolen bases and junior infielder Nikki Sagermann has six homers and 19 RBI.
The defending 2014 SEC Tournament Champions, Georgia enters the weekend with a 36-13 record, including an 11-9 mark in SEC play. The Bulldogs are 23-7 at home this season, 6-4 in true road games and 7-2 in neutral-site games. UGA is hitting .356 as a team with 360 runs scored and 49 home runs, while the pitching staff has a 2.11 ERA and has limited opponents to a .194 batting average in 308 innings pitched. Entering this week's games, Georgia ranked eighth nationally in batting average, 15th in earned run average, 13th in scoring and eighth in stolen bases per game.
The Bulldogs are coming off a 15-6 midweek non-conference win over Georgia State on Wednesday, concluding its 2015 home schedule. This weekend's games are the last regular-season games of the season for UGA before the SEC Tournament starts the second week of May. Georgia had won five straight SEC games before dropping both games of a rain-shortened series with Florida last weekend in Athens.
Freshman infielder Cortni Emanuel leads the team with a .450 average, adding 47 runs scored, four doubles, one triple, 16 RBI and an impressive 40 stolen bases, while sophomore outfielder Sydni Emanuel is hitting .426 with 50 runs scored and 21 stolen bases, adding six doubles, one triple, one homer and 28 RBI. Junior infielder Alex Hugo has again shown her home run ability in her second year in the SEC with 19 homers with 63 RBI and five stolen bases, while senior infielder Paige Wilson is hitting .388 with 10 doubles and 55 RBI. Junior infielder Tina Iosefa has seven homers and 33 RBI this season, while senior outfielder Anna Swafford has 12 rountrippers and 34 RBI.
Chelsea Wilkinson is again the leader in the circle for Georgia, sitting 22-8 with a 2.07 ERA in 189.2 innings pitched with only 56 earned runs allowed and 213 strikeouts. Opponents are hitting just .180 against Wilkinson this season with the junior posting 20 complete games and six shutouts. Freshman Brittany Gray is 13-5 with a 2.21 ERA in 107.2 innings pitched with 89 strikeouts and opponents hitting .216 against her. Freshman Savannah McHellon and sophomore Rebekah Farris have thrown 10.2 innings combined this season.
Georgia leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 49-12, including winning six straight games against Kentucky. Last season, UGA swept Kentucky in the final regular-season series of the year in Athens, before taking down the Wildcats 5-2 in the SEC Tournament Championship game. Kentucky won the series over the Bulldogs the last time the two teams met in Lexington, winning two of three in 2012. Rachel Lawson is 4-17 against Georgia in her tenure at Kentucky.
For more information on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter and Instagram of Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Kentucky 29-17, 5-13 SEC
Georgia 36-13, 11-9 SEC
Kentucky -- No. 17 USA Today/NFCA Top 25; No. 19 ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Georgia -- No. 14 USA Today/NFCA Top 25; No. 14 ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25
Friday, April 24
Georgia at Kentucky -- 6 p.m. ET -- Live Stats -- SEC Network+
Saturday, April 25
Georgia at Kentucky -- 3 p.m. ET -- Live Stats -- SEC Network+
Sunday, April 26
Georgia at Kentucky -- 1 p.m. ET -- Live Stats -- SEC Network+