LEXINGTON, Ky. - Behind a four-run fifth inning that gave the top-25 ranked Wildcats a comfortable six-run lead, the No. 21 University of Kentucky softball team got back to its winning ways Tuesday night with a 7-1 victory over Western Kentucky University at the UK Softball Complex in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky (20-7) will have a quick turnaround as it will square off against Iowa at 4:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday to conclude midweek action. The UK-Iowa game will be the first of four games televised live this season on the UK/IMG Sports Network. The game will also be shown on the entire Fox Sports South footprint. Check local listings for details.
Admission to the game is free of charge due to the continued construction of the new UK Softball Complex. The new stadium is nearly completed, but until construction in the seating areas is fully complete, admission to games will be free of charge. Fans can contact the UK Ticket Office with any questions prior to attending a game at 1-800-928-2287.
The Wildcats had a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning before the offense exploded for four runs. The inning started with sophomore catch Griffin Joiner getting hit by a pitch and was pinch ran for by Sarah Frazer, who advanced to third on the single to right-centerfield by junior outfielder Ginny Carroll. With runners at the corners and one out, true freshman Nikki Sagermann laced her second single of the game to rightfield, scoring the first run of the inning. Junior pinch hitter Emily Gaines then singled to leftfield to score the second run of the inning and after a strikeout, freshman Maisie Steed reached on a fielding error that allowed two more runs to score and give UK the decisive 7-1 lead.
Nikki Sagermann was the offensive star in the game for Kentucky, going 2-for-3 with two runs batted in, including her first collegiate home run. The native of Buford, Ga., now leads the Wildcats in batting average this season with a .370 (17-for-46) clip, including one double and nine RBI. Six other Wildcats earned hits, including a two-RBI single by freshman infielder Christian Stokes.
In the circle, UK got a four-inning win from junior pitcher Lauren Cumbess, who allowed only one earned run on three hits with three strikeouts. Cumbess is now 5-2 on the year with a 2.50 earned-run average. Freshman Kelsey Nunley threw the final three innings for UK to pick up her first career save. Nunley allowed one hit and no runs with four strikeouts in the game. The outing for Nunley lowered her ERA to a team-best 2.25. +
WKU (15-9) started Mallorie Sulaski in the circle. Sulaski went 1.2 innings, giving up three runs on three hits with three strikeouts. Janna Scheff came on in relief, going 4.1 innings allowing four runs - two earned - on five hits.
Kentucky scored first in the game, getting the first homer of the year from true freshman infielder Nikki Sagermann. Junior infielder Emily Jolly kept the rally going with a single to leftfield, moving to second on a stolen base before back-to-back walks loaded the bases. That brought up Stokes, who singled through the left side of the infield, scoring two runs and giving UK a 3-0 lead.
WKU got on the board in the top of the fourth inning, getting an RBI single by Jacqueline McGill. After a one-out walk to Sulaski, Clara Garcia singled to leftfield to put runners at first and second. McGill then hit a single up the middle, scoring the pinch runner Bethany Oglesby and cutting the UK lead to 3-1. Cumbess got two fly outs to end the inning.
The Wildcats are 12-7 all-time against the Hilltoppers, including a 8-3 record in Lexington. The two teams first met in 2000 and have played every year since but two (2008 and 2011). This was the first of two meetings on the year between the Wildcats and Hilltoppers as Kentucky will take a trip to Bowling Green, Ky., on March 26.
Before the game Tuesday vs. WKU, the Wildcats fell to No. 21 in both the USA Today/National Fastball Coaches Association and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25. Kentucky was ranked 17th by both outlets last week.
Iowa enters Wednesday's game receiving votes in both major collegiate softball polls. Megan Blank leads the team in hitting at .390 (30-for-77) with six doubles, one triple, five homers and 35 RBI. Kayla Massey is hitting .378 (28-for-74) with three doubles, five homers and 21 RBI. In the circle, Massey leads the team with an 8-4 record and a 2.46 ERA, while Chelsea Lyon is 8-4 with a 2.79 ERA.
Iowa is 18-8 on the year after falling to No. 11 Louisville on Tuesday afternoon. The Hawkeyes beat the Cardinals on Monday, however.
Kentucky and Iowa have met only twice in softball with each team owning a win. UK lost to Iowa in the first meeting in 1997 in Bloomington, Ind., before defeating the Hawkeyes in Iowa City, Iowa in 2003. This is the first meeting in Lexington.
Kentucky will play host to the SEC Tournament this season for the first time in school history. The event, which is considered one of the most prestigious softball tournaments in the nation, will be May 8-11 in Lexington. The championship game will be featured on ESPN2, while all other games will be shown on ESPNU.
For the latest on UK softball, follow "@UKSoftball" on Twitter or like Kentucky Softball on Facebook.
Lawson on UK's 7-1 Win
Records: Kentucky 20-7, 2-4 SEC WKU 15-9, 5-1 Sun Belt Iowa 18-8, 0-0 B1G
Schedule: Tuesday, March 19 - No. 21 Kentucky def. WKU 7-1 Wednesday, March 20 - Iowa vs. No. 17 Kentucky - TV: UK/IMG Sports Network-Fox Sports South
Ticket Information: Admission to both games is free of charge due to the continued construction of the new UK Softball Complex. The new stadium is nearly completed, but until construction in the seating areas is fully complete, admission to games will be free of charge. Fans can contact the UK Ticket Office with any questions prior to attending a game at 1-800-928-2287.